APNewsBreak: Del. Gov. spares convicted murderer

January 17, 2012 - 1:25 PM

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has spared the life of a man who was facing execution for the 1990 murder of his girlfriend.

Robert Gattis was scheduled to die by injection Friday for killing Shirley Slay.

But Markell has decided to accept a recommendation from the state Board of Pardons that he commute Gattis' death sentence to life in prison without parole. It appears to be the first time a Delaware governor has commuted a death sentence.

Markell says he realizes the decision may cause pain to Slay's family.

But he also said he gave great weight to the pardons board, which voted 4 to 1 for commutation. Members agreed with defense lawyers that the courts never properly weighed the physical and sexual abuse Gattis suffered as a child.