LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said this week he intends to commute the sentence of a man serving a life sentence for robbing a taco shop in 1981 with a water gun.
Hutchinson on Thursday announced his intention to make Rolf Kaestel immediately eligible for parole. There is a 30-day waiting period for public comment before the governor’s decision becomes final.
Kaestel, 70, was convicted of aggravated theft and sentenced to life in prison after he stole $ 264 from a Fort Smith taco shop. Kaestel was only armed with a water pistol at the time.
It was Kaestel’s fifth request for pardon. In his last candidacy, he wrote that “I may still have a few reasonably energetic and productive years in which I can still make a really substantial contribution to society.”
“I believe I have demonstrated that I deserve the chance to do so, and I appeal to your consideration and favorable action to enable me to start a new life,” he wrote. “The ends of justice have been served with the relentless four decades of my incarceration to date.”
Hutchinson noted that there was no objection from law enforcement to Kaestel’s request for pardon.
Kaestel’s case and the sentence he received had captured the attention of advocates of criminal justice reform. The taco shop employee who handed over the money to Kaestel on the robbery has also requested his release.