OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — After being recommended for commutation with time served by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, a man serving time for a nonviolent drug charge was denied commutation by Governor Kevin Stitt.
"We just thought, 'Finally, you know. It's over. He's gonna get out,'" Lucille Richardson told News 4.
What was a celebration for the family of 53-year-old Glen Appleton took an unexpected turn that Richardson, Appleton's aunt, said they never saw coming.
"He called his sister and she saw that he was calling and she said, 'Oh, he's ready for me to come get him.' He says, 'Guess what, let me read you something,'" Richardson said.
It was a letter from Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.
Inside the letter, the spot for the date Appleton's commutation would begin is marked with X's and below it, the word 'denied' is written in all caps.
"We've cried and everything because we could not believe that there'd be any reason why it would be denied," Richardson said.
In 2004, Appleton was sentenced to six prison terms, which were to be served concurrently, for drug possession and manufacturing.
"He has done so good and been so careful to avoid troublemakers or any type of trouble in prison," Richardson said.
She said he's spent most of his time working in the woodshop.
He's now served 15 years, with only five years left to go.
"He has his life straightened out. He has a place to go. I mean everything was just perfect and just ready for him," Richardson said.
That's why she wrote a letter to Gov. Stitt, hoping to learn why he denied Appleton's commutation. She never heard back.
"My mother is 97 and she's not going to be here forever and we were just so in hopes that he would be out to spend a little time with her and that's not going to happen if he's in there for three to five more years," Richardson said.
News 4 reached out to Gov. Stitt's office and received the following statement:
“Mr. Appleton received the minimum sentence of 20 years for aggravated manufacturing, which is an 85% crime. The governor is currently focused on prioritizing commutations for exceptional cases and penalties that are outside of the range of current law," said Baylee Lakey, the governor's communications director.