Fortunate to be represented by the devoted Tom Kelly of K&L Gates, Charles DeFrates went before the Clemency and Pardons Board in 2017 but was denied a recommendation to the governor for clemency. With past experience as a prosecutor and current involvement as a Seattle Clemency Project Board Member, Tom’s work on this case and subsequent advocacy captures Charles’ potential.
Charles is currently serving a life without the possibility of parole sentence for aggravated murder. The severity of this crime is not lost on Charles and he has expressed profound regret for his past actions. One aspect of his transformation and pursuit for mercy and forgiveness has been through his religious devotion.
No longer resembling the man who committed those actions, Charles hopes to be given the opportunity to contribute to the society he once harmed. Now, he is of old age and suffering from advanced systolic heart failure which significantly reduces his life expectancy. Charles hopes to experience his last years of life free from incarceration.
Speaking in support of his petition, five of Charles’ friends, whom he met in a multitude of ways, all shed light on the type of person he has become. They described Charles as sweet and kind, giving to those around him, and certain to integrate well back into society. If release becomes possible, he wants to be involved in the senior center and church in his area and further pursue his religious and spiritual beliefs.
While this decision was unfortunate, it does not diminish his ability to continue reforming and striving for better. Both Charles and his counsel will work to address the concerns of the board, and he will petition for clemency when eligible again. Charles’ story demonstrates the gains and setbacks that characterize the clemency and pardons process, and the Seattle Clemency Project strives to provide continuous support at all stages.