LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Mike Beebe announced intention Monday to commute the sentence of a California woman who was sentenced in Arkansas to life in prison on drug charges.
Beebe gave notice he planned to commute Linda Satterwhite’s sentence to a term of 103 years and seven months, which would make her eligible for parole in May 2015 after 25 years in prison.
Satterwhite, 54, of Corona, Calif., has served the bulk of her sentence in her home state. She was transferred from Arkansas under an interstate compact between the two states.
In his notice, the governor said his commutation decision was based on the length of time served by Satterwhite “and the facts surrounding the incident.”
In 1989 , Satterwhite was charged with eight counts of manufacture, delivery and possession of a controlled substance. She pleaded guilty, apparently to two counts, and was sentenced to life in prison by then-Circuit Judge Charles Walker, who was serving a temporary appointment to a newly created judgeship.
Walker, now a lawyer in Hope, did not immediately return a called to his office seeking comment Monday.
The governor’s notice said the current circuit judge objected to Satterwhite’s clemency application.
Circuit Judge Joe Griffin said Monday he routinely objects to clemency for someone who received a life sentence.
“I didn’t try the case. I don’t know Miss Linda Satterwhite personally,” Griffin said. “I don’t substitute my thoughts … unless I personally heard the trial and I know of circumstances that were not taken into consideration.”
Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample said Satterwhite received “consecutive life sentences for selling two rocks of cocaine to an undercover officer at her residence in Stamps.”
Satterwhite served less than two years of her 23 years in prison in Arkansas. Department of Correction spokeswoman Dina Tyler said Satterwhite entered the prison system in May 1990 and was transferred to California in February 1992.