LITTLE ROCK — The state Parole Board on Tuesday recommended that Gov. Mike Beebe commute the sentence of a man convicted of capital murder nearly 40 years ago and pardon a woman convicted of murder 47 years ago.
The recommendations are for Percy Henderson, who was convicted of capital murder in Union County, and Ruby F. Cheatham, who was convicted of murder in Pulaski County. Beebe is not bound by the board’s recommendations.
Henderson, now 62, was sentenced in April 1974 to life in prison without possibility of parole in the 1973 slayings of Warren Herbert Green Jr., 27, and Gary Ray Sawyers, 26. Henderson said in his clemency application that he and another man were robbing the victims when his partner shot and killed them.
"In essence I was a willing participant," Henderson wrote.
He also said he has become a Christian and has developed serious health problems.
"At my current age, crime cannot and will not be an option in re-entering society. As a man of firm faith I know that proper deeds will yield positive results in all walks of life; be it financial, domestic or spiritual," Henderson wrote in his application.
Local officials did not oppose Henderson’s application. The Parole Board voted unanimously to recommend that Beebe commute his sentence to time served.
Cheatham, now 81 and a resident of North Little Rock, was convicted of murder in March 1967 and was released after serving a three-year sentence. She wrote in her application for clemency that her boyfriend was trying to kill her and her children with a long knife when she shot him.
Cheatham also wrote that she has never been in trouble since the shooting. She said she has mentored children and worked as volunteer for the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office for 12 years.
Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay advised the Parole Board in writing that he was "OK" with Cheatham’s application.
The board voted to 4-1 recommend that Beebe pardon Cheatham and restore her right to own firearms. Vice Chairman James Wallace voted to recommend that she be pardoned but not allowed to own firearms.