Exclusive: Illinois Murderers Released Early, Victim's Families Not Notified
Tewkunzi Green was released from prison 22 years early after murdering Montral Fleming in Peoria in 2007 when Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed a “commutation of sentencing order.” Fleming’s family says they were not notified of her prison release through the state, but instead through Facebook. Other families have had similar experiences, and Illinois Senate Republicans are asking why.
Jaclyn Harris, the mother of two of Fleming’s children, told Breitbart News, “We’ve emailed the governor hundreds of times… and all you get is an automatic response.”
Evonne Fleming, Montral’s mother, works in the Peoria County Courthouse. Harris said she discovered Green’s clemency petition in August 2020, through a casual Google search to show a colleague Green’s picture. She then called Evonne to tell her the news.
Both women began a campaign encouraging people to write to Gov. Pritzker’s office asking him to deny Green clemency. Harris began to receive online harassment from Green’s friends and family members for doing so.
During her trial, Green claimed she stabbed Fleming in self-defense to protect herself and their child. Her clemency petition was supported by the Women and Survivors Project, created by the Illinois Prison Project, which Green was an ambassador and currently works as a community educator. The Chicago Tribunereported that Green’s petition laid out a history of abuse by men in her life.
Welcome, Tewkunzi Green, IPP's new Community Educator!IPP is delighted to announce the addition of Tewkunzi to our…
Montral Fleming’s son, Montral Jerome Fleming Harris (MJ), wrote a letter to Pritzker claiming, “in actuality, it was her who was always abusing my father.” He wrote about an incident several months prior to his father’s death when she allegedly “picked up a piece of… glass.” He wrote, “She charged at us, my uncle who saw what was about to happen, jumped in front of us and his hand was severely cut.”
Letters from Montral Fleming’s family and friends went unanswered according to Harris and Fleming, and Gov. Pritzker ultimately released Green in November 202o, upon recommendation of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (PRB).
While the Peoria County State’s Attorney’s Office told Breitbart News, “The State’s Attorney’s office was aware of Ms. Green’s Petition for Executive Clemency as we were properly served with a copy by Ms. Green’s counsel. We then submitted our reply objecting to release. Ms. Fleming also submitted letters on behalf of the family of Montral.”
“However, we were not informed of the governor’s decision to grant clemency and therefore were unaware of her release,” they continued. “Typically we receive notification of the governor’s decisions.”
When Fleming finally spoke to a representative from the PRB over the phone about why she was not notified about Green’s release, she said the woman was “snotty.” Harris also spoke to a person in a separate attempt and described the person as “rude.” Both women were told they needed to be on a list to be notified of Green’s parole hearings by the state.
“How we were supposed to know about this list? … She’s a convicted murderer who was sentenced to 34 years with no parole. So why would we get on the list to get notified of parole hearings if parole was never on the table?” said Harris.
The Office of Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul (D) publishes a “Statement of Victim’s Rights.” Harris and Fleming claim many of those rights were violated, including the right “to be notified of information about the conviction, sentence, imprisonment, and release of the accused” and “to be present at the trial and all other court proceedings on the same basis as the accused.”
The PRB is under scrutiny for controversial board members and releases. Breitbart News reported last month, “For two years, Illinois Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker has bypassed the appointee process for the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (PRB) to fill it with his hand-picked appointees. One of the newest board members is a man convicted of a double homicide.”
The PRB also made several controversial releases. In February, two cop-killers were paroled by Pritzker after receiving recommendations from the Illinois PRB, Johnny Veal, 68, and Joseph Hurst, 77.
“In a crime spree in 1977, Salik Abdullah (formerly Theodore Parsons) murdered two teenagers in Champaign County to steal their car to commit a robbery,” Breitbart News reported. “He then shot and paralyzed a gas station employee. He was sentenced to 500 to 1000 years and was paroled in March of this year.”
Illinois Senate Republicans told Breitbart News the state failed to inform Abdullah’s victim’s families of his parole hearing.
Harris knows she may face retaliation for going to the media, but she is public about her family’s struggle because she wants more people to know what happened and prevent it from happening to other families.
Harris contacted State Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) with her family’s story. Bryant, who worked in the Illinois Department of Corrections before running for office, said she is now working to figure out how many people have been released under Pritzker and what their names are. The Illinois PRB only has a partial list of parolees available online and thousands of people have been released during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bryant told Breitbart News while the Pritzker administration is “making sure that criminals are treated fairly… they seem to have absolutely no care at all the victim’s families are treated fairly.”
While Harris no longer lives in Peoria, Evonne Fleming does. Because she saw posts about Green’s release on Facebook, she was able to mentally prepare herself to possibly run into her son’s murderer in the community.
Fleming says her grandson, the child of Tewkunzi Green and Montral Fleming, suffers the most. He is currently a teenager, but Fleming said she doesn’t get to see her grandchild and, “he never got to know my son as a dad. And he never got to know his brother and sister.”
State Sen. Steve McClure (R-Springfield) told Breitbart News, “They don’t have empathy for the victims, or they don’t feel like the victim should have justice.”
“The fact that [the PRB] cannot put themselves in the victim’s shoes, and they’re only concerned about what it’s like to be the prisoner — who’s a murderer, who’s a rapist — is absolutely backwards. Insane,” said McClure.
“We have numerous instances where the victims, the victims, families, the prosecutors, the judges aren’t even being informed that this [release] happened. And so there’s real transparency issues across the entire process,” State Sen. Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) said.
“Facts don’t matter,” commented McClure, “People get killed and families don’t get justice.”
McClure and Plummer told Breitbart News for these reasons they call Pritzker the “most dangerous governor in America.”
Sen. Bryant said she is working on legislation to close the notification loopholes and make it a crime if victims are not notified, “I’m at the very early stages of figuring out why the victims were not notified, but responsibility lies with IPRB.”
The Illinois Prisoner Review Board and the Illinois Prison Project did not respond to requests for comment.