Democrat Lt. Gov. John Fetterman was the only person on the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons to vote to commute the sentence of Wayne Covington, who was sentenced to life in prison for shooting and killing a teenager during a robbery for drug money.
Fetterman, who is now running against Republican Dr. Mehemet Oz to replace retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, voted in June 2021 to commute Covington's life sentence, records reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon show. Fetterman chairs the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons as lieutenant governor.
In order to avoid the death penalty, Covington pleaded guilty in 1970 to the first-degree murder of 18-year-old George Rudnycky. Covington and an accomplice were high when they robbed the teen for money to buy heroin.
Rudnycky's family members pleaded to keep Covington behind bars at his commutation hearing, but Fetterman voted as the lone board member to support Covington's release.
Fetterman's campaign website says that he has taken the role of lieutenant governor and "transformed the position into a bully pulpit for criminal justice reform."
He previously said he ran for lieutenant governor just to lead the Board of Pardons and has called to end life sentences for people who were convicted of second-degree murder but did not "pull the trigger."
While Fetterman did not have a problem releasing Rudnycky's killer, the lieutenant governor has worked to free a range of other violent convicted murders through the parole board.
His progressive approach to crime and support for Soros-funded Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner led 13 Pennsylvania sheriffs to write a letter last month about their concerns over his justice policies amid rising crime rates.
Fetterman's campaign did not respond to the Free Beacon's request for comment and the Board of Pardons denied the outlet's public records request for a video or transcript of Covington's release hearing.