OLYMPIA – A former Newport, Wash., man should not be pardoned for helping kill his former son-in-law, a state board has recommended.
The Clemency and Pardons Board recommended unanimously last week that Gov. Chris Gregoire not grant a pardon and early release to Morris “Mel” Goldberg, who is serving almost 27 years for his part in the 1991 slaying of Peter Zeihen. The final decision, which a spokeswoman said may take months, is up to Gregoire.
“The governor has never, to this date, approved a petition for clemency against the recommendation of the board,” said Melynda Campbell, of the governor’s office.
Goldberg, 78, was convicted in 2000 of driving a getaway car after his ex-wife Joann Peterson killed Zeihen with a shotgun blast to the head. Zeihen was in his car in the driveway of his Spokane Valley home.
At his trial, Goldberg claimed the couple killed Zeihen because their granddaughter was being sexually abused and Zeihen might have received custody of her in an upcoming divorce proceeding. That allegation was investigated by police and never substantiated.
At his sentencing, Goldberg questioned the court’s authority over him and offered an Old Testament justification for the slaying.
Originally sentenced to life in prison, Goldberg’s term was reduced to 320 months after a successful appeal to the state Supreme Court. Earlier this year he filed a petition for a pardon, saying he is suffering from an array of medical conditions, including diabetes.
“I am self-reformed and rehabilitated,” he wrote in his petition. “I’m also 78 years old with increasing physical problems with their attendant additional cost to maintain.”
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