End of the Line

A state board decides not to offer Carl Maynard, 75, a reprieve hearing

During a 5:30 a.m. drive to Phoenix for a hearing on Thursday, April 24, Michael Linick wondered aloud if this was the beginning of Carl Maynard's road to freedom. Or, perhaps, it could be the end.

After the hearing, Linick clutched Maynard's file to his chest and shook his head back and forth in disbelief. It was the end.

"That was Carl's last hope. I'm afraid this is the end of the road. Carl Maynard will die in prison," Linick said, sighing before leaving the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency building in Phoenix.

Linick, a paralegal with the Pima County Legal Defender's Office, went to the Board of Clemency meeting hoping that his client could get a reprieve hearing--a hearing that could potentially free Maynard, the 75-year-old state prisoner who's been incarcerated for more than 30 years and is not eligible for parole until 2039. (See "Threw Away the Key," Jan. 17.)

"The issue we are discussing, we are deciding today, is whether the board wants to proceed with a hearing," said Duane Belcher, the board chairman. "This is unusual, different, and so I am just putting it on the board's agenda to see if it even wants to move forward in the arena to set up a hearing. ... What is it generally (that) Mr. Maynard is asking for, and the reasons why?"

Linick told the board that when he looked through Maynard's court file last year, he decided the best way to help the prisoner was to file for a reprieve--a move that Linick back then admitted was a "long shot" when he was interviewed by the Weekly.

Linick told the Weekly that he wondered how someone could serve what amounts to a life sentence without parole for a series of robberies, when today, murderers and their accomplices are often eligible for parole after several decades. Linick said he thought about Brad Schwartz, who was convicted in 2006 of conspiracy to commit murder. Schwartz hired Ronald Bruce Bigger to kill Tucson ophthalmologist Dr. David Brian Stidham. Schwartz got life in prison, but he is eligible for parole after 25 years.

"I see the injustice, and that is the only reason (I decided to look at Maynard's case)," Linick told the Weekly in January. "I don't know Carl, and I'd never met him before November (2007). I just looked at the papers and said, 'What's going on here?'"

Linick briefly got a chance to explain Maynard's criminal history to the board. In 1976, Maynard participated in a series of three armed robberies at two different Safeway stores in Tucson. His co-defendants each took the plea agreements as recommended to them by their attorneys and received significantly less time. One got a year in prison, another five.

However, Maynard didn't take a plea, and his case went to trial. When it was over, he received three 30-to-50-year terms. The judge decided the sentences would run consecutively, meaning that Maynard has to serve them one after another. He is not eligible for parole.

"He is seeking a reprieve from the sentences he received. He would basically spend the rest of his life in prison," Linick told the board.

Belcher told Linick that reprieves historically "have been exclusively used in death-penalty and capital cases. ... My understanding is that this request is basically to circumvent a lawful sentence."

Belcher added that it was clear that the court wanted to put Maynard behind bars for that period of 90 years. Of course, Linick disagreed.

Linick told Belcher that the sentence does not say "any other form of early release." If it did, then filing for a reprieve would be moot.

"But at that time, they did not use that language, and there were statutes that used that language of 'no other type of early release.' ... They could have done it. ... So, it's not there, and doesn't say a person is not eligible for a reprieve," Linick said.

Linick told the board that Maynard regrets what he did in 1976. Maynard told Linick that it was wrong "to be out there with a loaded gun in my hand. I could have killed a kid, or a woman, an innocent. It was stupid. Stupid. Stupid."

Linick asked the board to consider a reprieve hearing.

"What we're looking for basically (is to) ... give him a chance at 75 years old ... to breathe some fresh air outside of prison walls and demonstrate he can follow the rules. The board has an opportunity to hang their hat on the fact that the statute does not deny a reprieve under these circumstances."

After the board listened to Linick's remarks, it voted unanimously not to grant Maynard a hearing.

The Tucson Weekly called the Arizona Department of Corrections to request an interview with Maynard regarding the board's decision; as of press time, the request was still making its way through the ADC's Public Information Office.

A call to Gov. Janet Napolitano's office for a comment regarding the board's denial was not returned as of press time.

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