90 Miles From Tyranny : Fetterman Voted To Free Murderer Who Hacked Innocent Man to Death With Garden Shears

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Monday, September 19, 2022

Fetterman Voted To Free Murderer Who Hacked Innocent Man to Death With Garden Shears

Senate hopeful was 'happy' to release murderer who, while out on bond, ordered hit on top witness

Charles "Zeke" Goldblum was sentenced to life in prison for killing a man with garden shears in a parking garage in downtown Pittsburgh and later trying to hire a hitman to kill his accomplice in the brutal murder. As lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, Senate hopeful John Fetterman voted to set Goldblum free in 2019 and said he was "happy" when the killer was released from prison last year.

Goldblum was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1976 killing of George Wilhelm as part of an insurance fraud cover-up. According to prosecutors, Goldblum and an accomplice, Clarence Miller, lured Wilhelm to a parking garage in Pittsburgh, where Goldblum stabbed the man 26 times. While out on bail, Goldblum tried to hire an undercover police officer to murder Miller, who had fingered Goldblum for the crime.

Goldblum, who has maintained his innocence, was poised to die in prison, having unsuccessfully appealed for clemency seven times. But in 2019, Pennsylvania's Board of Pardons, which Fetterman chairs, voted unanimously to release Goldblum from jail, overriding the wishes of Wilhelm’s family. To justify its decision, the board points to the judge and prosecutor on Wilhelm's case, who have since concluded he was the accomplice rather than the principal assailant.

But in 2007, a federal appeals court rejected Goldblum's request for an evidentiary hearing, writing, "there is just too much evidence here establishing Goldblum's guilt." Both judge and prosecutor have been vague about what information motivated their reversal, and no one has claimed Goldblum is innocent of the hitman charge.

Still, Fetterman cheered when Goldblum was released from jail last year, saying he was "happy that he’s going to be going home to his family" and that Goldblum was "not a threat to public safety." The commutation was part of Fetterman’s pledge to "transform" Pennsylvania’s pardon process and free more prisoners, a record the Democrat has touted on the campaign trail. Fetterman specifically points to his efforts to end life sentences for those who are involved in murders but did not directly "pull the trigger."

Beyond Goldblum, however, Fetterman has voted to free "triggermen" convicted of first-degree murder. Last year, he was the only member of the board to vote to release Wayne Covington, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for killing a man for money to buy heroin. That ordeal has already made its way into GOP ads that argue Fetterman is "too far left" and "dangerously liberal on crime," suggesting Fetterman's record as chair of the board may not be the winning issue he thinks it is.

Following his release from prison in 2021, Goldblum admitted he hired Miller to burn down a restaurant he owned in order to collect the insurance money. The pair went on to arrange a meeting with Wilhelm, who "knew of Goldblum's involvement in the land fraud scheme and the arson" and wanted a payment, according to...

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1 comment:

MMinWA said...

PA is corruption central.