Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Starcia Ague one step closer to pardon

Posted on Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 2:13 PM

Starcia Ague, who was among the juvenile offenders we wrote about in last week’s cover story, “Kid Crime, Adult Time,” took another step away from a troubled past last week when the state Clemency and Pardons Board voted unanimously to accept her petition for a pardon.

The hearing last Thursday in Olympia was an emotionally draining 90 minutes, televised on tvw.org. (Ague's portion of the hearing begins at 1:33 and covers the final half of a three-hour telecast.)

“It passes unanimously,” chairwoman Margaret Smith, a retired Seattle attorney, announced. She paused, and then added, “For the record, for Governor Gregoire’s benefit, I would like to report the audience just broke out in spontaneous applause.”

Ague (her name is pronounced "starsh-uh ag-you”) pleaded guilty at 15 to home-invasion robbery, served a “juvenile life” sentence until age 21 and is about to graduate Washington State University with a degree in criminal justice. Despite the turnaround, she found her juvenile record hampered her job prospects and last legislative session helped push a law that allows most juvenile Class A felonies to be sealed after five years of good behavior.

A parade of legislators, police and professors testified on her behalf before the Clemency and Pardons Board. The recommendation now goes to Gregoire, who is not bound by the panel’s decision.

Highlights from her hearing include testimony from Lt. Don Stevens of the Tumwater Police, who arrested both of Ague's parents for years before becoming an unlikely mentor to Starcia. His testimony is at 1:50 to 2:07.

There is also some pointed questioning from board members beginning at 2:46. The vote comes at 3:02.

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