Saulo Montalvo, 35, convicted as a 16-year-old getaway car driver in a fatal convenience store robbery, was named the No. 2 prisoner from Michigan most deserving clemency.
Saulo’s clemency petition was supported by the victim’s family, his sentencing judge and others, but Republican Gov. Rick Snyder rejected the clemency request without explanation.
In 1996, Saulo drove two 15-year-old friends to a convenience store in Grand Rapids, Mich. Robert Maze and Christopher Peltier went inside. Maze shot and killed 61-year-old Rodney Corp. Peltier took the money from the cash register. Maze and Peltier were sentenced — and are still serving — life without parole, as is Saulo.
Michigan law makes no distinction between teens 14 and older and adults involved in serious crime, nor does it make a distinction between the role played in the offense.
In prison, Saulo has married his middle school sweetheart, started a ministry and recorded impeccable prison behavior.
His case is an example of how elected officials, mostly Republican, refuse to treat criminal defendants with humanity, often refusing to comply with seemingly obvious interpretations of the law. As described in Detroit Free Press:
During Montalvo’s time in prison, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole constitute cruel and unusual punishment, but Michigan is one of a few states that has determined the ruling does not apply retroactively. State Attorney General Bill Schutte has steadfastly opposed applying the ruling to previous cases.
There is a case before the U.S. Supreme Court set to be heard in the fall that could clarify whether the justices meant for the Constitution to apply to all cases – not just the cases after they made their landmark decision in 2012.”