In one of his last acts as Governor, Chet Culver has commuted a Polk county man’s 25-year sentence for first-degree robbery, and a Scott County woman’s sentence of life for first-degree kidnapping. According a letter Culver sent to the parole board, John Lowery was 18 in 1997 when he went into a motel with Andre Bonner.
Bonner waived a gun and grabbed the clerk and forced her into the office. The clerk said Lowery never spoke, never pointed a weapon and did not touch her during the robbery. The letter says Lowery has received alcohol and drug treatment, paid restitution and been a model prisoner since being put into prison.
The law would require Lowery to serve at least 21 years of his sentence before being eligible for parole. Culver’s statement said he felt that the mandatory sentence handed down to Lowery was overly harsh and commuting his sentence would allow the parole board to review his case.
In the Scott County case of Shiela Schertz, she was found guilty of kidnapping an attempting to kill a man along with her husband and two others. While the other four were found guilty of first-degree murder, Schertz was found guilty of the lesser charge of second-dgree murder.
Culver’s letter to the parole board says there is evidence that Schertz suffered abuse by her husband. Culver also says Schertz is now suffering from a severe lung disease that requires treatment and it would be better for her to receive the treatment outside of prison. Culver says in light of the sentence that appears to be harsher to Schertz than the other four, and the fact that she has already served some 30 years in prison, he is commuting the kidnapping charge to allow the board of parole a chance to review her case for possible parole.
These are the first two sentences Culver commuted in his four years as governor.