SEVEN YEARS LATER: Rolf Kaestel is still in prison in Utah and hoping for clemency in Arkansas.
Thanks again to Mara Leveritt for keeping track of the case of Rolf Kaestel, now 69 and serving his 39th year in prison for the armed robbery of $264 from a taco stand in Fort Smith. He got a life sentence on account of prior convictions.
Kaestel was transferred from Arkansas prisons to Utah after he appeared in a documentary film on a prison blood selling scandal.
The state Parole Board has now recommended for the third time that Kaestel be considered for executive clemency. It was denied by Gov. Mike Beebe in 2014 and then by Governor Hutchinson in 2015, Hutchinson’s first year in office. That denial meant Kaestel had to wait six more years to apply again.
The Parole Board has recommended his latest application “with merit.” It is now in the hands of Hutchinson. It was one of only two applications for clemency recommended by the Parole Board on Nov. 10.
Kaestel was prosecuted by Ron Fields, later a top assistant to Hutchinson at the Department of Homeland Security.
Salt Lake City Weekly took a deep look into the curious case in 2013. As noted then, worse offenders are released regularly and state officials have never been willing to discuss either his transfer to Utah or their resistance to freeing him.
Mara tells me Kaestel has a sponsor in Utah should the third clemency application be charmed.