Pa. governor grants rare commutation

June 16, 2009 at 12:00 PM
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HARRISBURG, Pa., June 16 (UPI) -- In a rare commutation, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell has said convicted murderer George Orlowski can spend the rest of his life on parole.

It was the second commutation of its kind since Rendell took office in January 2003 and only the third in Pennsylvania since 1994, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday.

Orlowski, 54, of Bucks County, was serving a life sentence for his role in a 1980 killing in which William Decker fatally shot James Puerale, 27.

A court found Orlowski conspired to have Decker harm a man who had threatened Orlowski over a bad batch of methamphetamine Orlowski had sold, the Inquirer reported. Decker, however, entered the wrong apartment and killed the wrong man, police said.

Orlowski, who was not present at the shootings, said in court he had wanted no one killed. The trial judge put most of the blame for the shootings on Victor Hassine, Orlowski's business partner, the Inquirer said.

On average, Pennsylvania governors commuted 12 life sentences per year from 1971 until 1994, when pardoned killer Reginald McFadden killed two more people in New York and kidnapped and raped a third, the Inquirer reported.

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