Cenla death row inmates denied clemency hearings

The Board of Pardons took swift action in a 3-1 vote to deny the request for a clemency hearing for two Central Louisiana death row cases.
Published: Nov. 8, 2023 at 6:10 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (KALB) - The Board of Pardons took swift action in a 3-1 vote to deny the request for a clemency hearing for two Central Louisiana death row cases.

Tracy Lee and Larry Roy were among the 56 death row inmates who filed clemency applications to the state board, asking for their sentences to be lessened to life in prison.

Larry Roy, 62, was convicted on first-degree murder charges in the May 1993 stabbing deaths of Freddie Richard, Jr. and Rosetta Silas in Cheneyville. Richard and Silas were at the home of Sally Richard, whom Roy had dated. She and her two sons were injured in the attack but managed to escape. Roy claims he did not remember committing the crimes because he was intoxicated on beer, gin and cocaine.

Tracy Lee, 62, is convicted of killing Rohn Blackston, 15, during a burglary in Natchitoches in 1985. At the time, he was a soldier stationed at Fort Polk. He also raped the teenager’s sister and mother, before stealing cash from the family. He was convicted and sentenced to death, but his defense argued he was suffering emotionally or mentally at the time.

Lee and Roy were among the 20 clemency applications set in August to have hearings on October 13, November 8, November 13 and November 27. However, last month, those hearings became administrative reviews instead, which would determine whether they would be granted a clemency hearing.

In the administrative review Wednesday, the board took into account prison records, testimonials in support and against clemency and local legal positions on the cases.

For Roy, his prison record and testimonies in support could have made an impact on the board’s decision.

Roy’s prison record has a notable lack of write-ups. In fact, in the 30 years he has been on death row, Roy has not had a single write-up, which the board acknowledged as a rarity.

He has also committed to sobriety, completed multiple faith-based programs and gives to charity, in efforts he said in a letter to the board were to put good back into the world.

“Thirty years ago I had no respect for life, no respect for my own life and no respect for others. There are so many reasons why I was at rock bottom, but even saying them out loud feels like an excuse,” wrote Roy. “Over the years, God has brought people into my life who taught me how to show love for others, who taught me that I am also worthy of love. And I had hoped to share that today.”

Roy said he was not asking to be released from prison but to have a chance at a life sentence.

Multiple victims in the case recounted the pain brought on by Roy’s actions, which follow them even now. One victim injured in the attack was unable to speak higher than a whisper due to his throat having been slashed.

The children of those killed also testified against Roy’s request. Charles Silas recounted the weight of his mother’s death, which he relives every Mother’s Day, just days after the anniversary of her murder.

“This man took something away from me that I can never, ever get back. And now he wants us to give him clemency? I’m sure he has changed and I thank the good Lord that he has changed, but you still have to give him accountability,” said Silas.

Tracy Lee, on the other hand, has multiple write-ups on his prison record.

The victim’s family testified to the pain they still experience 38 years after their brother was killed, revealing details not contained in any case record.

“They don’t mention the first Christmas after Rohn’s death, my mom had placed gifts under the Christmas tree with his name on it and we had to remove them to keep her from being upset. Days and years of seeing my mother and my sister, depression and heartache,” said Scott Blackston. “We still haven’t gotten the justice the family needs.”

Though there are still administrative hearings scheduled for other clemency applications throughout the year, even if granted a hearing, none of them will happen before Gov. John Bel Edwards leaves office.

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