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Gov. Jack Markell Commutes Death Sentence of Robert Gattis

On January 24, 2012 by Schnader in Alternative Dispute Resolution

On January 17, 2012, Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware commuted the death sentence of Robert Gattis to life without parole. The Delaware Board of Pardons’ recommended that Mr. Gattis be allowed to live after he appeared before the Board to ask for a clemency recommendation. In 1992, Mr. Gattis was convicted of killing his girlfriend, Shirley Shay, after a fight and sentenced to death. Before the murder, he had complained to medical professionals of mental illness and involuntary violent impulses from the extreme and continuous sexual abuse he suffered as a child. During the trial, Mr. Gattis’ lawyers failed to submit proof about his mental illness and its effects. During their review of the case, the Delaware Board of Pardons was able to take into account the abuse factor as well as support from other judges, including Schnader’s Hon. Timothy K. Lewis. In making their recommendation, the Board noted that the difference in penalties for other murders in domestic disputes and Mr. Gattis’ sentence “offends a moral sense of proportionally.”

News of the commutation was noted in The New York Times and To read the statement of Gov. Jack Markell regarding the commutation, please click here.