Released from Prison Early by Obama, Wendell Callahan Killed 3 People-Mostly Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Wendell Callahan, a man who was serving time on crack-cocaine charges, murdered his ex-girlfriend and her two children after President Obama gave him early release.
The tragic details of this case are true — but Wendell Callahan was released due to reforms in federal prison sentencing guidelines, not because Obama pardoned him.
Callahan was charged with three counts of aggravated murder in January 2016 for allegedly stabbing to death a woman and two young children, according to complaints filed in Franklin County Circuit Court in Ohio. Callahan faces the death penalty in the case, which is still pending.
The Columbus Post Dispatch reported shortly after Callahan’s arrest that he had been given early release from federal prison on a 12-½ year sentence for selling crack that was handed down in 2007:
The man charged with killing an ex-girlfriend and two of her children in a North Side stabbing rampage early on Tuesday likely would have been deep into a 12 1/2-year federal prison sentence if sentencing guidelines for convicted crack dealers had remained unchanged.
Wendell L. Callahan, 35, twice benefited from changes in federal sentencing guidelines, which reduced his sentence by a total of more than four years, from the 150 months he was first given in 2007, to 110 months in 2008 including time served, and 100 months in 2011.
Columbus police charged Callahan on Tuesday with three counts of murder in the deaths of ex-girlfriend Erveena Hammonds, 32, and her daughters, Breya Hammonds, 7, and Anaesia Green, 10.
A number of media outlets have since reported that Callahan had been “pardoned” by Obama — but that’s not true.
Callahan’s federal sentence was shortened by an amendment to federal sentencing guidelines that went into effect on November 1, 2007 — more than a year before Obama took office, according to a report by the U.S. Sentencing Commission:
On May 1, 2007, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 994(a) and (p), the Commission submitted to Congress amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines that became effective on November 1, 2007. One of those amendments, Amendment 706, modified the drug quantity thresholds in the Drug Quantity Table of §2D1.1 so as to assign, for crack cocaine offenses, base offense levels corresponding to guideline ranges that include the statutory mandatory minimum penalties. Crack cocaine offenses for quantities above and below the mandatory minimum threshold quantities similarly were adjusted downward by two levels. The amendment also included a mechanism to determine a combined base offense level in an offense involving crack cocaine and other controlled substances. On December 11, 2007, the Commission voted to promulgate Amendment 713, which added Amendment 706 as amended by 711, to the amendments listed in subsection (c) in §1B1.10 that apply retroactively.
The Commission voted to make Amendment 713 effective on March 3, 2008. As a result, some incarcerated offenders are eligible to receive a reduction in their sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) pursuant to Amendment 706.
And the second time Callahan’s sentence was reduced — from 110 months to 100 months — was approved by Congress and signed into law by Obama in August 2010. The law reduced the disparity between sentences for crack-cocaine and power cocaine, the Sentencing Commission reports:
This report provides data concerning the retroactive application of the guideline amendment implementation of the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA), Pub. L. No. 111–220, signed into law on August 3, 2010. The FSA increased the quantities of crack cocaine that trigger the five and ten-year statutory mandatory minimum penalties — from five grams to 28 grams for fiveyear mandatory minimums and from 50 to 280 grams for ten-year mandatory minimums — and eliminated the five-year mandatory minimum for simple possession of crack cocaine. Significantly, the FSA gave the Commission emergency amendment authority to temporarily change the guidelines to implement the statutory changes and to add certain enhancements and reductions to the guidelines.
So, it’s true that Obama signed Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 into law — but Congress drafted and approved the bill with bipartisan support. It’s misleading to place the blame for any consequences solely on Obama. That’s why we’re call this one “mostly fiction.”