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January 25, 2017

Horrific aftermath for one Obama commutation recipient

This local article from Michigan, headlined "Ex-gang member 'executed' after Obama commutes sentence," reports on how one recipient of Obama's clemency push quickly became of victim of violent crime.  Here are the details:

Police say two masked gunmen with assault-style rifles entered a federal halfway house Monday night with a specific goal: the "execution" of a man recently released from prison at the behest of former President Barack Obama.

Demarlon C. Thomas, a former member of Saginaw's Sunny Side Gang who had his 19-year prison sentence commuted by Obama in November, was slain by one of the gunmen around 9:40 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23, at Bannum Place, the federal halfway house located at 2200 Norman St., Michigan State Police Lt. David Kaiser said.

Thomas, 31, was shot in the head and numerous other times by one of the gunmen as his partner corralled at gunpoint some of the other 23 people in the house, Kaiser said.  "One person watched over a group of them while another subject located the victim and executed him," Kaiser said. "They were looking for this person."

No one else was injured, and it's unknown at this time what security measures the halfway house had in place, Kaiser said. No suspects are in custody.

Thomas was among 79 people across the country who had their sentences commuted by Obama on Nov. 22, 2016. Obama commuted Thomas' sentence to expire on March 22, 2017, or about eight years before his initial release date....

Thomas was arrested in one of the biggest drug busts in the history of Saginaw. In 2008, he was sentenced to 19 years in prison for the distribution of five grams or more of cocaine as part of the three-year federal investigation called "Operation Sunset." In all, "Operation Sunset" saw 29 convictions in federal court and 10 in state court and effectively brought about the end of the Sunny Side Gang, which operated on Saginaw's South Side.

January 25, 2017 at 09:29 AM | Permalink


This incident supports the idea that non-violent drug offenders are part of violent gangs, will kill witnesses and informants. They will kill competitors. They will kill trespassers on their Deadhead marijuana farm lands. The decarceration lawyer movement is not just a denier movement. It is an intentional rent seeking movement arguing in bad faith, and promoting an economic self interest.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 25, 2017 9:50:44 AM

An Amendment should be enacted to end all government immunities. This ridiculous and unjust immunity is a factor in its failure, incompetence, and carelessness. It is unaccountable.

The estate of the murder victim should be able to sue the President for a wrongful death, the halfway house for negligent security. The neighbors should be able to sue the President for the huge drop in property values from this incident. The murderers should also be sued if identified. To deter.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 25, 2017 9:59:22 AM

This is problem. During the clemency initiative, it did appear that the DOJ was making some strange decisions. They denied many nonviolent marijuana offenders and drug offenders. Many of those who were denied had been supported by Clemency Project 2014.

The strange thing was, the DOJ then sent many petitions for commutation to the President for his signature who did not fit the profile of nonviolent offender. The White House seemed to be hands off after the initiative was announced.

CP-14 seemed to be acting as a screening group and a facilitator for the individuals they chose, and the DOJ accepted or rejected them. There is no explanation for the DOJs criteria for those the DOJ chose to send on their own.

Posted by: beth | Jan 25, 2017 11:15:02 AM


One out of a thousand? You have to do better than that.

Posted by: Daniel | Jan 25, 2017 12:30:49 PM

I had two clients for whom I filed for clemency, and both applications had the support of CP-2014. In my view, one of them had an arguably stronger case, which included an email from the sentencing judge specifically recommending a reduction of the sentence to time served (from the life sentence that the client is serving) and commenting that "the justice system failed in this case." Nevertheless, he was denied, perhaps because he was here illegally.

The decisions on clemency applications leave us reading tea leaves. Here is a tea leaf: Thomas's sentence resulted from the application of the now-discredited crack guidelines, and that probably says a lot about why clemency was granted to him.

Finally, would it be inappropriate to observe that Thomas was the victim, not the perpetrator, of the crime? Isn't that important? Does that prove that he was a poor candidate for a reduction in sentence?

Posted by: Late Inning Relief | Jan 25, 2017 3:41:21 PM

Thomas was not the perpetrator of the murder. If I remember correctly, Thomas did not go to trial and took a plea agreement. Perhaps he was killed because of information he gave for the plea.

In any case, he should not have been placed in a half-way house in the same neighborhood of the offense.

Posted by: beth | Jan 25, 2017 4:42:28 PM

"In any case, he should not have been placed in a half-way house in the same neighborhood of the offense."

No, he should not.

Posted by: federalist | Jan 25, 2017 4:48:51 PM

I do wonder who made the placement decision. Those I know who have been placed after clemency did not make the location decision, although I understand that they may have some input.

Posted by: beth | Jan 25, 2017 6:02:16 PM

More of the old cliché "to many cooks in the kitchen." The people working in the Obama administration are not known for making logical, sensible decisions, hence, in the end, a man is dead that should never have been placed anywhere near his old "stomping grounds!"

Posted by: Liberals don't have a clue | Jan 28, 2017 1:38:22 PM

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