Supporters ask Iowa governor to commute '74 killer

Associated Press
This Nov. 1, 2012 photo provided by the Iowa Department of Corrections shows Rasberry Williams who is serving a life sentence for fatally shooting an acquaintance over a $30 debt outside a Waterloo, Iowa, pool hall in 1974. After two governors have declined to grant Williams’ commutation despite broad support since 2005, Gov. Terry Branstad is again considering the Iowa Board of Parole’s recommendation that Williams’ sentence be commuted. (AP Photo/Iowa Department of Corrections)

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Supporters of an inmate serving life in prison for a 1974 murder are urging Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to commute his sentence so he can be released, and even the victim's family members say they've forgiven him.

The statements came Wednesday during a public hearing called by Branstad to gather input on whether he should commute the sentence of 66-year-old Rasberry Williams, which the Iowa Board of Parole has recommended.

Branstad has until early May to decide. Commuting the sentence would allow Williams to become eligible for parole after 38 years in prison for the murder of 40-year-old Lester Givhan outside a pool hall.

Three former inmates who served with Williams credited him with helping them turn their lives around. Two of Givhan's cousins say the family has forgiven Williams.