Family of prisoner Michael Clifton enlists victim in clemency petition

A man sentenced to nearly a century in prison has asked Governor Jared Polis for clemency after serving more than two decades behind bars.

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This story begins at gunpoint in 1998. Rene Lima-Marin and Michael Clifton rob Jason Kasperek from an Aurora video store. Each shooter was sentenced to 98 years.

Fast forward two decades: Lima-Marin is released following a paperwork error, then a pardon from the governor of Colorado.

Michael Clifton told court ‘I want out too’

In 2018, Kasparek told CBS4 he would not accept a clemency request: “I’m sorry, I’m one of the victims, it’s a life sentence for me.”

But then, what is called restorative justice took place. The victim, Kasparek met Lima Marin and later Michael Clifton. Now Kasperek and his wife were nervously meeting Clifton’s family.

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They had come from all over the country. Father, mother, son, sister and more to ask for help.

His brother Derrick said: “He’s changed for the better, he’s a different person.”

Michael Clifton’s father, Larry, says his son deserves to be released. “I’m afraid, how can a person serve 8 to 16 years and 98 years more for the same crime.”

There was hope.

Kasperek told the Clifton family, “There’s absolutely no way he deserves a life sentence.”

When Kasperek met Clifton face to face, they talked about his previous issues in prison.

“Once he’s done all the things he’s done it’s become positive from there and he’s a wonderful man.”

He added: “I will do everything I can to help him out.”

It’s not over yet, but it was an important step.

The prisoner’s father, Larry, told Kasperek, “You’re part of the family now.”

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The victim, now an ally, replied: “I am so proud to be part of the family”.

Polis will rule on the leniency request. His office said it was not commenting in advance.

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