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John Fetterman Could Be Facing Another Public Relations Nightmare on Crime Soon

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

You must give Dr. Mehmet Oz credit in the final months of the 2022 elections. He’s turned the ship around, chipping away at Pennsylvania Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s double-digit lead by attacking his record on crime and public safety. Oz, the Republican candidate in this year’s U.S. Senate race, was trailing Fetterman by an 11-point average. It looked like a dumpster fire, but Oz put out the flames, overhauled his staff, and found a resonant message. Fetterman's inability to form complete sentences has also helped with his appalling record on law and order issues. The lieutenant governor wants to empty one-third of Pennsylvania’s prisons and abolish life sentences for first-degree murderers. The Philly suburbs are reportedly in play this year, owing to Biden’s dismal economic agenda and the rise in crime in the surrounding areas. 


Crime could be yanked into the forefront at the worst time for the Fetterman campaign as the state legislature mulls an impeachment vote on Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who Fetterman endorsed. He’s facing dereliction of duty charges over the spike in gun violence, amongst other things. Krasner has punched back, saying that highlighting the city’s spike in crime is racist. It also doesn’t help that a man you helped get out of prison from a past murder charge is once again on the run from authorities over the exact charges (via Philly Inquirer):

A Philadelphia man wanted in the fatal shooting of a 50-year-old artist and musician last month was released from prison last year after city prosecutors helped overturn his conviction for an unrelated 2012 killing — a decision that at the time drew resistance from the victim’s family and even the judge.

 Jahmir Harris, 32, is expected to be charged with murder in the death of Charles “Chali Khan” Gossett, a producer, director, and community advocate who was ambushed outside a restaurant and lounge in Overbrook on Sept. 5. Authorities believe Harris drove two shooters to and from the scene, and at one point approached Gossett on foot in the parking lot moments before returning to his car and driving the attackers toward Gossett.

 Harris has not yet been apprehended, authorities said. He had been in prison on an unrelated murder conviction until March of last year, when the District Attorney’s Office said it found that evidence in the case had been improperly withheld from his trial lawyers.

 Prosecutors successfully sought to have the case overturned — even though the judge who approved that admonished them for their handling of the appeal, questioned why they felt confident Harris should be freed, and did not endorse their belief that he was innocent.

Harris was convicted of firing 17 shots at Louis Porter outside a Walgreens at Oregon Avenue near 23rd Street in December 2012. Porter had just parked his car and his 5-year-old son was in the backseat when he was killed.


Don’t let those headlines about Mr. Harris fool you—he wasn’t necessarily exonerated, as the judge was still not convinced that he should be freed. Yet, that 2012 shooting is now irrelevant. He’s wanted on murder charges again, which takes a chainsaw to the narrative that Fetterman was pitched regarding why he’s against life sentences for murder. He calls it the “Shawshank Redemption” test, which is nonsensical since it’s a movie (via Semafor):

FETTERMAN: It's really a very simple choice. I believe the perfect metaphor is “The Shawshank Redemption.” That’s a touchstone that virtually everybody has seen, everybody understands. I’ve asked people, would you want Morgan Freeman to die in prison or not? And I've never met anybody that says, “Yeah, he should die in prison. I would have voted to have him die in prison.”

 I understood, at the beginning of becoming the board of pardons chair, that this was going to be weaponized. You're talking less than one percent of individuals that are condemned to die in prison. And they come in front of five people, the same as in “Shawshank.” They're usually elderly. They’re most likely be Black. And they are deeply remorseful for what they were involved in, or what they did directly; and they've done 40 years or more, maybe sometimes more than 50 years.

 Everyone from the warden, to the Secretary of Corrections, down to the guards – everyone that has known them for decades, I ask everybody the question, “Would you want this person as your neighbor?” And they're like, of course, absolutely, we’d be delighted to have that.

 WEIGEL: How do you factor in family members of the person who was murdered? Maybe the murder was 50 years ago, but maybe they haven’t forgiven them, even if the warden or the guards have.

 FETTERMAN: I agree that, absolutely, the victims are very much an important part of the conversation. The point is that if somebody has a perfect record, and they have spent, you know, more than half a century in jail, and nobody believes that they were still dangerous or anything – it really just comes to a simple choice of believing in a chance at redemption.


Was Mr. Harris remorseful? Not enough since he’s accused of committing a homicide again. It’s a headline that I’m sure Democrats don’t want in the news. Still, it’s a story that was their own doing, thanks to atrocious public safety laws that favor the interests of the criminal rather than the victim, their families, and general law, order, and decency. You can bet the mortgage that Oz will bring this story up in the upcoming debate, and he should. Fetterman wants first-degree murderers roaming free because…he feels terrible for them. I’m sure the victim’s families feel infinitely worse, sir. 


UPDATE: Mr. Harris has surrendered to authorities.

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