Arkansas man serving life for water pistol robbery gets clemency nod

State News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas man who’s been serving a life sentence for robbing a taco shop in 1981 with a water pistol has moved closer to being eligible for parole

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced he intends to make Rolf Kaestel immediately eligible for parole. There’s a 30-day waiting period to receive public feedback before the governor’s decision becomes final.

Kaestel, 71, was convicted of aggravated robbery and sentenced to life in prison after he robbed a Fort Smith taco shop of $264.

He was armed only with a water pistol at the time.

Kaestel’s case had received attention nationally from activists.

The man who managed the taco shop and handed Kaestel the money during the robbery has recommended his release. Dennis Schluterman appealed to then-Governor Mike Beebe in a YouTube video on Oct. 29, 2014.

Kaestel appears to never have violated prison rules during his four decades as an inmate. He’s earned three associate degrees and several college credits while in prison.

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