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Sons Of Murder Victim Outraged Over Ritter’s Commutation

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Garry Izor (credit: Colorado Department of Corrections)

Garry Izor (credit: Colorado Department of Corrections)

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DENVER (CBS4) – Gov. Bill Ritter has released a list of criminals who will be pardoned and eligible for early release. Twenty-nine people were picked, including a convicted murderer who’s been in and out of jail.

Garry Izor killed Gene Willis of Franktown in 1977 while robbing a liquor store. On Friday Ritter commuted Izor’s sentence. That means Izor will get out of jail 5 years early. Willis’ sons are outraged over the governor’s decision. They say they were never told the man who killed their father was getting out early.

Dec. 7, 1977 has haunted Jay and Lee Willis. It’s the day Izor stabbed and killed their father while robbing his liquor store in Franktown.

“I remember that day very vividly. I remember probably the worst part was having to tell my mom,” Jay Willis said.

Izor went to prison. About 20 years later he was released to “community placement” for good behavior. According to the state, he later attempted suicide. While in the hospital he failed to return to his community placement. That was considered an escape and he got 24 additional years.

“I think Gov. Ritter took a lot of strength to do this,” Izor’s wife Kathy said.

Kathy Izor said Gary served his time for the murder. But she believes the 24 years for escape is much too long.

“People don’t normally get 24 years for being out of area for 36 hours after they’ve been clean in the community for 6 and a half years,” she said.

Willis’ sons say they are worried.

“My belief is it’s not a matter of if this guy’s going to commit another crime, it’s just a matter of when,” Jay Willis said.

Kathy disagrees. She feels bad for the Willis’ but is thankful for what the governor has done.

“He gave me my life, he gave my husband his life, he gave my four kids a dad,” she said.

The exact opposite of the Willis brothers, who only have pictures of their dad to show their children.

“Governor, you have single-handedly made me ashamed to live in Colroado,” Lee Willis said.

Ritter says all cases have been carefully reviewed and his decisions will not compromise public safety.

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