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Gov. Brown opens door for three SJ County murderers to get out of prison
Among 103 clemencies statewid

Of the 103 clemencies that outgoing California Governor Jerry Brown granted on Christmas Eve to people who have been convicted of killing at least one person, three of them were for cases from San Joaquin County.

And of those three cases, two of the recipients of executive clemency are now eligible for parole while the third will be eligible in 2021.

According to a press release distributed by the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, Brown commuted the sentences of Daniel Batchelder, Michael Eugene Caputo, and Kelly Marie Flynn in the batch of pardons and commutations that were handed down during his last weeks in office.

Batchelder, who was 19 in 2012 when he and a 17-year-old were convicted of murdering somebody at a stoplight in Tracy, had his 15-year sentence for attempted murder and a firearm enhancement – the man who was shot died, but the murder charges were downgraded as part of a plea agreement – commuted so that he will be eligible for parole in 2021.

Caputo was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 1983 slaying and robbery of an armored courier outside of a Stockton K-Mart store. Both Caputo and Bernard Patrick Gordon were found to have fired the fatal shots in the robbery while Patrick Bruce Gordon remained in the vehicle as the getaway driver. Tried separately, Caputo was found guilty of murder with special circumstance and given life in prison without the possibility parole, while Patrick Bruce Gordon was found guilty of the same crime and is now on California’s Death Row. With Brown’s commutation of Caputo’s sentence to 35-years to life in prison, he is now eligible for parole. Gordon, however, was not included in Brown’s final round of clemency

Kelly Marie Flynn was convicted of first-degree murder and kidnapping for her role in recruiting three of her current or former boyfriends to beat a man to death for a rape that prosecutors claim never happened back in 1996. Despite being sentenced to 33-years to life in prison, Brown commuted her sentence to only 22 years, making her currently eligible for parole.

Two other persons convicted of non-violent gun-related charges were given pardons by Brown.   

But not every one of Brown’s executive clemency actions were ultimately approved. Last week the California Supreme Court exercised a right that it hadn’t used in more than five decades when it rejected 10 of Brown’s proposed commutations – nine of which were for people that were convicted of murder. The commutations were part of his plan to rethink prison sentencing in the state and has so far handed down more pardons and commutations than any other governor in California’s history.

Many of those that were beneficiaries of the governor’s sentencing overhaul were found to have used opportunities available to them while incarcerated to better themselves through education and service to fellow inmates.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.