Rasberry Williams still being considered for Iowa commutation

Governor Branstad denies requests from 10 other inmates

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March 28, 2014 | 1:51 pm

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has denied commutations for 10 inmates serving life sentences for murder, kidnapping and robbery.

Branstad is still considering commuting the life prison term of Rasberry Williams, a 66-year-old who has served 38 years in prison for a 1974 shooting outside a Waterloo pool hall.

“The Williams' application is still under consideration and no decision has been made by the governor,” spokesman Tim Albrecht said in an email Wednesday.

Commutation is rare in Iowa, with governors reducing the legal penalty for only 39 people in the last 44 years. Most of the commutations cut mandatory life sentences to fixed-length terms with a possibility of parole.

Branstad has commuted the life prison terms of just two inmates in his 18 years in office. He has until May 4 to decide whether to grant commutation to Williams.

Williams shot Lester Givhan, 40, on July 20, 1974, after the men argued over a $30 gambling debt outside a Waterloo pool hall, the Des Moines Register reported. Givhan allegedly offered Williams the money, then pulled it back when Williams reached for it. Williams drew a revolver and fatally shot him, authorities said. Williams claimed self-defense, saying Givhan, who had a criminal history, appeared to be going for a gun.

The Iowa Board of Parole has recommended commutation for Williams and prison officials have called him a model inmate who has prevented two inmate attacks on correctional officers.

Branstad denied commutations for the following inmates:

  • Darrell Bizzett, 64, committed his crime on September 1, 1970, in Woodbury County.  He is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.
  • Rodney Borushaski, 40, committed his crimes on August 12, 1996, in Polk County.  He is serving two life sentences for first-degree murder.
  • Raymond T. Freie, Jr., 71, committed his crime on August 28, 1981, in Hancock County.  He is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.
  • Mark Greiman, 51, committed his crime on July 27, 1998, in Cerro Gordo County.  He is serving a twenty-give year sentence for first-degree robbery. Offenders must serve 85 percent of the sentence for this crime.
  • Kevin Johnson, 58, committed his crime on June 29, 1980, in Pottawattamie County.  He is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.
  • Ed Shaker Nassif, 43, committed his crime on September 1, 1990, in Linn County.  He is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.
  • Dee Jay Radeke, 49, committed his crime on May 31, 1991, in Linn County.  He is serving a life sentence for first-degree kidnapping.
  • Robert C. Richey, 68, committed his crime on May 8, 1996, in Bremer County.  He is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.
  • Arthur Rogers, 40, committed his crimes January 27, 2000, in Scott County.  He is serving two 20-year sentences for second-degree robbery. Offenders must serve 85 percent of this sentences.
  • Richard T. Steltzer, 69, committed his crime on February 6, 1979, in Warren County.  He is serving a life sentence for first-degree kidnapping.

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