Man sentenced to life for two murders could be granted parole by governor

Man accused of two murders serving life could be pardoned by governor

(WAFB) - Tamara Frank thought she had closure when the man convicted of killing her sister was put away for life, that is until she received a letter in the mail saying he is now up for a clemency hearing.

“I’ll fight everything I have with my last breath to make sure that you don’t walk out of that prison,” said Frank, addressing Kelly Adams, the man convicted of her sister’s murder.

Dawn Strahan was 19-years-old when she was murdered 21 years ago.

Dawn Strahan
Dawn Strahan (Family)

"She was the glue that held our family together. She never met a stranger. She loved everybody," said Frank. "When she passed away, she was raising me and our little brother."

The murder happened Jan. 22, 1998 in Leesville, just 70 miles north of Lake Charles.

Strahan, who was from Gonzales, was with Adams, her boyfriend from Baton Rouge, staying at a hotel in Leesville. The two were on a business venture with Adams' millionaire friend, Richard Howell.

"Richard made promises to my sister that they would go to this Leesville town and he was going to look at this club to buy so she could run it," said Frank.

Instead, things went wrong and Adams ended up shooting Howell five times and killing him. His next target was Strahan.

“Witnesses in the hotel room upstairs heard her say, ‘I just want to go home to my mom' and he said, ‘You’re going home to your momma, but you’re going home in a body bag,’” said Frank.

Strahan was also shot and killed. Adams was convicted in 1999 for both murders and was sentenced to two life terms without the option of parole. He exhausted all his appeals.

"I thought this is it, I'm done. I could move on with my life now," said Frank.

That temporary relief came to an end recently when Frank received a letter saying her sister’s killer had been granted a clemency hearing.

“Now, all this hurt and anger just opens right back up like it happened yesterday. It’s unfair, it’s so unfair,” said Frank.

“We’re going to do what the legislation that governs our organization tells us to do,” said Francis Abbott, executive director of the Board of Pardons & Committee on Parole. He says Louisiana’s governor has the unique power to grant pardons, clemency, and shorten sentences thanks to a state law. It’s a right provided to all inmates regardless of their sentence.

“It’s their opportunity to apply and request mercy or relief from their sentence,” said Abbott. “With this gentleman for instance, he’s right now serving life without the possibility of parole, so he’s requesting parole eligibility after a certain number of years.”

Abbott says a hearing does not guarantee Adams will be granted parole. In fact, of all the hearings, only about 37 percent are granted and forwarded to the governor for his review, with just over half of them being granted by the governor.

But for Frank, a decades old law on the books isn't a good enough reason for her tears.

"The justice system is supposed to be the justice system. You go before a judge and a jury for a reason. You get sentenced for a reason," said Frank.

Adams hearing is set for June 24.

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