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.

Comments (9)
  1. druid0621 says:

    And well they should be. Ritter is a disgrace,and has been for the past four years. But Hickenlooper won’t be much better, with his far-left Chinook Fund. When will the people of Colorado wake up and vote for candidates who defend the law and the Constitution?

  2. Lar says:

    Yes, we should vote for candidates that compromise police investigations and make stupid claims. If the Republicans had fielded a candidate, it might have helped…

  3. swimmom says:

    Why should he get a break and a second chance at life? His victim didn’t.

  4. Dana Choice says:

    I guess the Willis family hasn’t moved to the forgiveness stage.

  5. DenverVet says:

    I am lost for words in this story, not sure what is right or wrong here. What keeps coming to mind is that stabbing someone is a horrible act, very violent and something most of us would not even contemplate. Stabbing someone to death takes a lot of effort and is not as easy of a task as some might think.

  6. Rick Obernolte says:

    I understand that Mrs. Izor raised funds for Governor Ritter’s campaign. What a wonderful way to repay the favor – release a convicted murderer? Since Governor Ritter wants to play God, why not bring back Mr. Willis as well? The whole process is a gross example of political manipulation of the judicial system. No matter how ugly the crime, just be persistent and put some money into the pot and you will be rewarded. Killing someone with a knife is very personal and reflects on the blood lust of the individual committing the act. There is simply nothing to forgive here, it was a sadistic act and the animal should not be released on the public. My heart goes out to the Willis family. Its another foolish act by an incompetent governor. Commuting a sentence should be a public process and open to review; not done at the last minute behind closed doors by a departing governor. Why didn’t Governor Ritter have the “balls” to make his decision public months ago?

  7. Bruce Baker says:

    Sounds like a winning argument for capital punishment. Very low recidivism rate.

  8. Rick says:

    Ritter was always about killing small business owners.

  9. Jl Willis says:

    love your logic, it makes sense.

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