Arnold King was sentenced to life without parole for shooting John Labanara during a robbery. Labanara, an aide to Boston Mayor Kevin White, was killed while celebrating passing the bar exam.
King's commutation petition is the first to reach Patrick's desk since he became governor, The Boston Globe reported. Most of the 131 petitions filed in 2007 were rejected by the parole board, which approved King's by unanimous vote.
During his years in prison, King has earned two college degrees and been involved in programs to help other inmates and counsel high school students.
"I think what I want people to understand is there is a possibility for change," King said.
But clemency petitions have become a political minefield in Massachusetts since Gov. Michael Dukakis commuted 48 sentences. Surviving members of Labanara's family also argue that King should remain behind bars.