Kitzhaber commutes attempted murder sentence before leaving offi - KPTV - FOX 12

Kitzhaber commutes attempted murder sentence before leaving office

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SALEM, OR (AP) -

As one of his final acts in office, Oregon's outgoing Gov. John Kitzhaber commuted the prison sentence of a young inmate convicted of attempted murder.

Sang Dao, 25, sentenced to more than 12 years in prison, will be released next month, more than three years early.

Dao earned a bachelor's degree from Portland State University while behind bars, and Kitzhaber's fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, spoke at his graduation ceremony last summer.

Hayes was at the center of the ethics controversy that prompted Kitzhaber to step down effective Wednesday. She has been accused of using their relationship to land work for her consulting firm.

Kitzhaber has denied wrongdoing on both their parts.

The commutation, obtained by The Associated Press, was signed Tuesday, a day before Kitzhaber handed power to his successor, Kate Brown. Brown signed the document in her former role as secretary of state.

While at first it remained unclear as to why Kitzhaber chose to grant Dao clemency over all of the other inmates, FOX 12 has learned that Dao's application was backed by Multnomah County DA Rod Underhill, former Portland Police Chief Mike Reese, and Portland Mayor Charlie Hales.

The original judge who sentenced him in 2007,  and even his victims, also reportedly supported the decision.   

Dao also participated in numerous "give back" opportunities while at MacLaren including serving as vice chair on their youth advisory committee, according to his lawyer. 

Dao will leave prison on March 17. Department of Corrections records show his earliest possible release date had been in November of 2018. His attempted murder conviction included unlawful use of a weapon and assault.

In earning his degree while at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility, however, Dao "took advantage of all the benefits and the programs that we offered, and he made the most of them," spokesman C.J. Drake said.

"His conduct and his reformation while he was with us was exemplary," Drake said.

Hayes, speaking at the graduation ceremony, told the graduates "education is something no one can take from you."

Dao was transferred in November to a state prison in Salem when he aged out of the youth correctional system.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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