Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has said he intends to commute the sentence of a man serving a life sentence for robbing a taco shop in 1981 with a squirt gun.
Hutchinson announced that he intended to make Rolf Kaestel immediately eligible for parole. There is a 30-day waiting period for public comment before the governor’s decision is final.
Kaestel, 70, was convicted of aggravated robbery and sentenced to life in prison after he stole $ 264 from a Fort Smith taco shop. He was armed only with a squirt gun.
This was Kaestel’s fifth clemency request. In his last application, he wrote that “I may still have some reasonably energetic and productive years left in which I can still make a truly substantial contribution to society.”
“I believe I have shown that I deserve the opportunity to do so, and I request your consideration and favorable action to allow me to start a new life,” he wrote. “The purposes of justice have been served with the relentless four decades of my incarceration to date.”
Hutchinson said there were no objections from law enforcement to Kaestel’s clemency request.
Kaestel’s case received the attention of criminal justice reform advocates. The taqueria employee who gave the money to Kaestel during the robbery also asked for his release.