START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
Feb 1, 2009
Name: Governor Matt Blunt
Type: Tribute (for the living)
To Honor: Individual(s)
Location: Jefferson City, Missouri United States

This is an OP-ED by Stacey Lannert's attorney, Ellen Flottman which appeared at St. Louis


                      Blunt's commutation was an act of grace

In one of his last acts as governor, Matt Blunt commuted Stacey Lannert's sentence of life without the possibility of parole to 20 years' imprisonment. With that act of grace, Ms. Lannert's life began again.

Ms. Lannert was sexually abused by her father from age 8. Although some people claim there was no evidence of the abuse, the facts are clear. Ms. Lannert's cousin saw evidence of the abuse. Ms. Lannert told a babysitter, who told her only to "be strong." She told a school counselor, who did nothing. A psychologist told Ms. Lannert's mother that she showed all the signs of an abused child. Yet no one helped her. She shot her father, her abuser, when she was 18 years old and she feared that he was molesting her sister.

None of this is an excuse for murder. But society saves the sentence of life without parole for the worst of the worst. Only in recent years have we come to realize that victims of domestic violence are living in a war zone. They come to believe that no one can help them and that their abuser has ultimate control over them. When they resort to violence, they truly are acting in self-defense. And it is a tragedy for all of us.

In Ms. Lannert's situation, commutation was her last hope. She had fallen through the cracks of the legal system. Jurors who believed she had been sexually abused also found that she had committed first-degree murder, for which there was no option other than life without parole. A trial judge believed the sentence was too harsh but had no option but to sentence her to life without parole. Courts of review who found her situation sympathetic had no legal options. This is the situation for which commutation and pardon exist.

Commutation is an act of grace. It is an act of forgiveness. Mr. Blunt showed his integrity and courage in granting commutation to Ms. Lannert, and he is to be thanked for that. We don't have to condone, we don't even have to understand. We just have to forgive.

Ellen H. Flottman | St. Louis

Attorney for Stacey Lannert

Visibility: Everyone
Tags: , ,
Posted: Feb 1, 2009 10:29am


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