Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Word Is: Even Judges Can Make Mistakes.

Sgt. Paul Heh
When Elton John Richard, an Iraq War Vet shot and killed a would-be burglar, he believed he was defending his family. Now he sits in a Springer, New Mexico prison cell. He was sentenced to two years and ordered to pay $500 a month to the family of Daniel Romero by State District Judge Robert "Pat" Murdoch.

On Friday, a motion to amend Richard's sentence to probation will be heard in court.

Barring a sentence change, Richard and his family cling to hope that Governor Bill Richardson will grant some form of clemency. APD Senior Sgt Paul Heh, acting on his own time, has gathered 500 signatures on a petition asking the judge to change the sentence.

We talked to Mr. Heh, in the St. Java Coffee shop on the outside of the the parking garage of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Courthouse on Thursday morning.

"Reserved for Sgt. Paul Heh: Meeting With the Guys to Talk About the Thing!"
reads the sign on top of Heh's favorite table. The 21-year veteran cop tells us he spends countless hours in the cafe shop in between his manadatory court appearances to testify against people he has cited and arrested. Usually DWI drivers.

In this AUDIO INTERVIEW Heh says almost everyone he talked to about Richard agreed to sign the petition. He says, "most people say they would have done the same thing in a similar situation."

Heh told us he respects Judge Murdoch, but believes a "wrong has been done." Heh says the judge made a mistake and that Richard was trained to defend his family and acted out of self defense.

The petitions are symbolic and cannot be presented to the Judge hearing the motion, but Heh says he'll give them to Richard's family.

Heh says he won't stop at collecting signatures.

"I'm not done with this. I will not rest until this man is out of jail, and his life restored," vowed Heh. He says he'll personally write the Governor to ask for a full pardon.

We'll monitor the courtroom, and report live on 770 KKOB Friday morning as soon as the judge announces his decision on the motion.

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