California Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday announced the issuance of 72 pardons and commutations to people convicted of a variety of crimes. The vast majority of the crimes pardoned involved drugs and theft. However, several people convicted in murder cases had their sentences commuted.
Among those to receive a commutation from Governor Brown was Maria Arriaga. In 2005 at the age of 17 Arriaga became pregnant, but she chose to keep the pregnancy a secret from her abusive boyfriend and devoutly Catholic parents. Arriaga claimed she was scared and alone at the time she gave birth, so she killed the newborn baby. She was sentenced to 15 years to life for second degree murder when found guilty in 2007.
Brown chose to commute Arriaga's based on a positive report from the parole board. Without the commutation she would have remained in prison until 2021.
Governor Brown also issued a commutation to Susan Russo. She was convicted for plotting the murder of her husband with her boyfriend in an attempt to collect insurance death benefits. Russo let two men into her home and stood by as they shot him in his sleep, then the men disposed of the body.
Governor Brown was apparently swayed by reports that Russo now shows remorse for her crimes and claims that she has kicked a drug habit while in prison.
To the see the full list of pardons issued by the governor click here.