Jan Brewer Leaves Innocent Man in Prison for Life

Bill Macumber

Bill Macumber

It was just another week in Arizona. Tuesday, the Department of Corrections executed Jeffrey Landrigan despite controversy over the drugs in his lethal injection needle. Wednesday, Governor Jan Brewer once again refused to release Bill Macumber, an inmate since the mid-'70s who the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency says is innocent.

Confronted by an ABC News reporter and Macumber's son, Ron Kempfert, on camera, the campaigning governor would only say, "I feel very comfortable with my decision."

Even though the clemency board issued an unheard of unanimous recommendation that Macumber be released. And even though Brewer herself was responsible for appointing the members of that board.

Welcome to Arizona, where the governor is tough on crime, whether she's right or not.


Macumber was technically cleared of the double murder of Tim McKillop and Joyce Sterrenberg before he was even tried. A convicted murderer named Ernesto Valenzuela confessed to the crime in 1964 and again three years later.

But the Army veteran was pulled into the mix in 1974 when his soon-to-be ex-wife, Carol, placed him at the crime scene. According to the Freedom for Bill Macumber group, Carol Macumber was facing losing custody of her three sons to Bill and was allegedly involved in sexual misconduct at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. She asked the cops to re-examine the case reports -- reports she later admitted she had touched. Lo and behold, they found Macumber's palm print in there and started prosecution.

No one ever brought up Valenzuela's two confessions. And Carol's tainted testimony put her husband away for 35 years.

That all seemed to be over last year with the clemency board ruling, a recommendation sent on to Brewer that she pardon Macumber and let the 75-year-old go home to his family.

But in November, she said no way, followed by this week's re-affirmation that she's not letting Macumber go free. At 75, he's in poor health and expected to die in prison.

The family was surprised, but a look at her record shows they shouldn't be.

Brewer is, after all, the champion of the so-called "show me your papers" law, which treats immigrants in Arizona like criminals before they've even done anything wrong.

She's the governor who has spent time spouting off about the danger of "beheadings" in the desert of Arizona ... only to refuse to address investigations that there is zero evidence of these headless bodies.

And she's the governor who declared during a primary speech earlier this year that she needs to fight the tide of illegal immigrants into her state because of rampant crime, even without the numbers to back it up. Said Brewer, they “are coming here and they’re bringing drugs. And they’re doing drop houses and they’re extorting people and they’re terrorizing the families." When FBI statistics showed the state is actually in the midst of a years-long decline in violent crime, Brewer simply ignored them.

Now for the really bad news, Arizona. Fivethirtyeight's projections give her a 94.2 percent chance of remaining your governor.

Just don't piss off your ex-wife in the next four years. You might never recover.


Image via Freedom For Bill Macumber

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