Almost 35 years after his conviction for assault and kidnapping in Brainerd and 25 years after his release from Stillwater prison, a Florida man is seeking a pardon from the state of Minnesota.
Karle Ames Craver, 58, of Lake City, Fla., and formerly of Warren, Ohio, in November filed paperwork with the Minnesota Board of Pardons seeking a "pardon extraordinary," a relief granted to applicants who have served their sentence.
Craver's request will be heard April 1 by the Board of Pardons, which consists of the governor, chief justice of the Supreme Court and the attorney general. If Craver is granted a pardon extraordinary, the court will be directed to issue an order setting aside Craver's conviction and he will no longer be required to report the conviction except in specific limited circumstances.
If the pardon is approved, the conviction would remain in Craver's criminal record, said Shari Burt, Department of Corrections spokeswoman, but the fact of a pardon extraordinary also would be recorded.
"Sometimes a person has something on their criminal history and in order for them to seek certain employment they seek pardon extraordinary," Burt said. "Other times, people have something on their criminal record and they've tried to lead an exemplary life but their criminal past is always there. Everybody's reason is a bit different."
Craver and another man were arrested Nov. 4, 1975, after separate assaults in downtown Brainerd.
In the first incident, which happened behind the Red Velvet Bar - now the Blue Ox - Craver was accused of fighting with and stabbing two brothers, one of whom suffered severe injuries.
In the second incident that night, Craver and the other assailant confronted Woody Schermann, a local DNR conservation officer, and Stan Smith, a radio dispatcher for the State Patrol and DNR, outside the Log Cabin Bar. Smith was able to get away unhurt, but Schermann had his throat slashed and was forced into a car by the two assailants and driven around Brainerd.
In March of 1976 Craver pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and kidnapping and was sentenced to a total of 10 years in prison. He was released from prison in August of 1983.
Schermann died in December.
Smith, now living in Montevideo, said he wasn't informed that Craver was seeking a pardon or that victims had the opportunity to submit oral or written comments to the Board of Pardons.
"I would have wanted to know because he was a criminal, bad news," Smith said. "What I saw that night, he was terrible. I would never pardon him, never allow it to be done. He's a criminal and always will be as far as I am concerned."
Smith said after he got away from Craver and the other assailant he was able to get to the police department. If he hadn't been able to get away, Smith said Schermann might not have lived.
"Just on behalf of Woody, who is not with us anymore, what (Craver) did to him, Woody would never give him a pardon. Woody would never have done that," Smith said.
"What (Craver) did that night was pretty vicious. He'll never clear his conscience. His record maybe, but not his conscience."
In his application to the Board of Pardons, Craver noted he has been an over-the-road trucker for 30 years, is married with six grown children and eight grandchildren, is a high school graduate and was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps.
Craver wrote that his conviction became a problem after he and his wife sought custody of their 14-year-old granddaughter. He said since his release from prison he has only had a traffic violation.
"I was a drinker in my younger days. And done some pretty dumb things. I have lived with this incident for over 32 years and have regretted it ever since," Craver wrote. "This past year my granddaughter was placed in foster care in Tennessee. This felony came back after 32 years to haunt me. Through trial and error, my wife and I eventually gained custody. I have led a good life since this incident."
Pardon extraordinary is one of three types of relief granted by the Board of Appeals. The other are pardons, which exempt someone from punishment, and commutations, which alters punishment.
Burt said pardons and commutations are rarely granted. In 2008, 10 applications for pardons and commutations were considered but none granted. Of the 41 applications for pardon extraordinary received, 24 were granted.
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