Governor McAuliffe issues multiple pardons for Virginians given ‘excessive’ sentences

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe signed conditional pardons Friday for six Virginians who were given sentences that were described to be “excessive” and “unjust.”

“Virginia’s first responsibility to its citizens is to keep their families and communities safe,” said Governor McAuliffe. “As we uphold that responsibility, we must continuously strive to ensure that the punishments offenders receive are commensurate with the crime they committed. Each of these Virginians, some of whom committed their offense as juveniles, was convicted for a serious crime that should have resulted in their incarceration and rehabilitation. However, the sentence that they received was far outside what should have been adequate to keep Virginia safe.”

One of the people pardoned was Travion Blount, who was 15 years old when he and two older men held up a Norfolk house party in 2008. No one was seriously injured during this incident. He was offered a plea deal for 14 years of incarceration but wanted to proceed to a jury trial.

McAuliffe also  issued pardons to the following people:

  • Messiah Johnson – News 3’s Jessica Larche has covered Johnson’s case extensively. Johnson was sentenced to 132 years in

    Messiah Johnson

    prison for one armed robbery in which no one was injured. Although he has served more than 20 years for this crime, there are still questions about his guilt in that he has always maintained his innocence and there is credible evidence that he was never guilty. McAuliffe pardoned Johnson on the condition that he complete the Department of Corrections re-entry program prior to release and enter a three-year period of supervised release.

  • Travis Hassan May – May was 16 years old when he was sentenced to 160 years in prison for a string of armed robberies in which no one was injured. He has served more than 20 years in prison. McAuliffe has pardoned May on the condition that he complete the Department of Corrections re-entry program prior to release and enter a three-year period of supervised release.
  • Adrian Earl Davis – Davis was sentenced to 38 years in prison for a series of robberies that took place over a short period of time. A judge sentenced him because, at the time, he believed the mandatory minimum sentences had to be run consecutively instead of concurrently; this was later changed by the Virginia Supreme Court. McAuliffe pardoned Davis on the condition that he complete the Department of Corrections re-entry program prior to release and enter a three-year period of supervised release.
  • Leonard Lenon SingletonIn 2016, News 3 told the story of how Singleton became addicted to drugs and spiraled into a pattern of criminal behavior after serving in the U.S. Navy.

    Leonard Singleton

    During the summer of 1995, Singleton committed eight grab-and-dash robberies in Norfolk and Virginia Beach in seven days. He stole less than $550. Singleton was sentenced to two life sentences plus 110 years, during which he has taken advantage of the Department of Corrections programs for education and rehabilitation and has become a model inmate for more than a decade.  McAuliffe pardoned Singleton on the condition that he complete the Department of Corrections re-entry program prior to release and enter a three-year period of supervised release.

  • Tawana Simmons Terry – Terry was sentenced to 30 years in prison for distributing $80 worth of crack cocaine. During her nearly decade-long incarceration, the mother of three had become a model inmate. McAuliffe pardoned Terry on the condition that she complete the Department of Corrections re-entry program prior to release and enter a three-year period of supervised release.

“I am proud that each of these Virginians will serve an appropriate term and get a second chance at a more productive life. Going forward, I hope the General Assembly will consider the outrageous sentences in these cases and take appropriate steps to better balance safety and justice in the application of our laws,” McAuliffe said.

Click here to read more about each individual pardon. 

Related:

From star athlete to drug addict: How a Navy sailor got three life sentences for robbery 

Only on 3: Man serving 132 years for robbery speaks out