Clemency controversy for man who killed two teenagers

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KDVR) – The man accused of killing two teenagers in 2007 is asking to be let out of prison early. The family of 19-year-old Jennifer Kois received a letter from the Colorado Department of Corrections last Friday. The letter informed them that Patrick Strawmatt had applied for clemency.

Jennifer’s father, Peter VonFeldt, said, “There’s a whole lot of anger that came back because here we are serving a life sentence that he caused with our daughter being murdered by him and Jacob also being murdered by him. It just brought up a lot of bad feelings and old feelings from the past, things we don’t get to see her again or talk to her again, so those feelings came rushing back.”

Jennifer Kois and her boyfriend, Jacob Brock were killed in March 2007 when their car was hit by a drunk driver. Patrick Strawmatt pled guilty and was sentenced to 72 years in prison. He isn’t eligible for parole until 2055, but is eligible to ask for clemency.

“When he accepted that, he knew fully well he would be in jail for at least 72 years and that he’d have to serve 75% of that sentence. As of today, he’s only served 18% of that sentence. That’s really not justifiable for him taking two innocent lives and causing two families to basically serve a life sentence,” VonFeldt said.

“We can’t see what they would turn into, who they would become. Jennifer wanted to be a nurse or child psychologist. We never got to see that happen. Her greatest dream was to get married and have kids.

“There should be absolutely no way he can file for clemency at this early of a stage. If he was serving 70% of time and then asking for clemency, it would be a different story.”

But according to the Colorado Department of Correction’s website, in order to be eligible for clemency, “an offender serving any sentence, other than life must serve one-third of the actual sentence or ten years, whichever is less.”

Today was the deadline for family and friends to submit letters explaining why they do not want him to be granted clemency.

“We basically said he should not be allowed clemency, that he was given and accepted a 72 year sentence and accepted the crimes of violence against him,” VonFeldt said.

Jennifer’s sister, Jamie Johnston, who was just 16 at the time she was killed wrote:

“I was only 16 years old when my sister was killed. My life had not even started yet. I was still just a little girl with so many things to look forward to. So many things that I needed my big sister to be there for. I did not have my big sister here for my first heart break. I did not have my big sister here to help me get ready for homecoming or prom. I did not have my big sister here for my 18th birthday or my 21st birthday. I have not had my big sister here for all the downs that I have experienced through life thus far. Most importantly, I did not have my big sister here through one of the biggest moments of my life, and that was marrying the love of my life.

I do not believe that Patrick Strawmatt should be released from prison. I do not believe that 13 ½ years is long enough for him to think about his actions. He murdered two innocent souls, two beautiful human beings. Two humans who had brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers. Two humans who were so young, who were so in love, who had so much left in their lives. Patrick Strawmatt pled guilty. He accepted a sentence of 67 years for taking 2 innocent lives. He accepted that he would not be eligible for parole for 47 years. He knew and accepted the fact this was a crime of violence and that he would have to serve at least 75% of that sentence. And WE will accept no less than that.”

The victims families are hoping to convince the clemency board and the governor to keep Strawmatt behind bars.

“It’s just not right for him to think 13 years is long enough for murdering two kids and thinking it’s ok. It’s not ok,” VonFeldt said.

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