Arkansas man sentenced to life for 1981 taco shop robbery with a water gun granted clemency

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An Arkansas man is set to be set free after decades in prison for robbing a taco shop with a water pistol. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson said he will commute Rolf Kaestel’s sentence, making him immediately eligible for parole. 

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Kaestel, 70, was arrested following a 1981 robbery, for which he was convicted of aggravated robbery and sentenced to life in prison. He stole $264 and was armed with only a water pistol. 

He also had to pay a $15,000 fine. 

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“I believe that I have demonstrated that I deserve the chance to do so, and I appeal for your consideration and favorable action to allow me to begin a new life,” Kaestel wrote in his most recent appeal. “The ends of justice have been served with the unrelenting four decades of my incarceration to date.”

Kaestel has repeatedly appealed for clemency, with his fifth appeal finally approved. The governor’s decision will only become final following a 30-day waiting period in which he will receive feedback. 

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However, no law enforcement officials objected to the application. 

The man who managed the shop and handed Kaestel the money during the robbery supported his release as well, FOX 4 KC reported

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Hutchinson previously denied Kaestel clemency in his 2015 appeal, but his case received attention from criminal justice reform advocates, the Guardian reported.

Kaestel reportedly never violated prison rules during his time as an inmate, and he earned three associate’s degrees while in prison. 


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