Charlie Vaughn is almost certainly innocent of the crime he’s already served 30 years for after being convicted. Radley Balko’s summary has too many bullet points to be excerpted here, but the TL;DR is that someone else has confessed to the crime backed up by DNA evidence, and with a confession that (unlike the one probably coerced out of Vaughn) actually consistent with the facts of the case.
His clemency petition got to the desk of former Trump Baghdad Bob Sarah Huckabee Sanders. It went as you would expect:
After filing Vaughn’s petition last June, Stuart Chanen met with Cortney Kennedy, the chief counsel for Gov. Sanders. Chanen says they talked for about an hour and that afterward, he left the meeting feeling encouraged. He thought Kennedy had been genuinely moved by Vaughn’s story.
A month later, Chanen sent an email to inquire about the status of Vaughn’s petition.
He received this reply from Kennedy:
Good afternoon, Mr. Chanen,
The Governor completed her review of Mr. Vaughn’s file last week. Unfortunately, she has chosen not to grant clemency at this time. He will be able to reapply in 6 years, pursuant to statute.
Sanders’ office has given no explanation for her denial of clemency. “I’m just grief-stricken,” Chanen says. “If ever anyone were deserving of this, it’s Charlie Vaughn.”
Chanen is now preparing a habeas petition for the Arkansas Supreme Court. But the odds of getting any relief are daunting. Arkansas law provides no way back into court for prisoners who have exhausted their appeals, even with factual innocence claims.
It seems likely that, at minimum, Charlie Vaughn will spend another six years in prison.
If you want to be pardoned by a Republican, “having been in prison for decades for a crime you didn’t commit” won’t cut it. You need to commit crimes on behalf of the chief executive or something. In addition, remember that there is no worse act a person can commit than politely asking a fascist to leave their restaurant.