Antonio Balta Denied Clemency, Advocates Turn to Rick Scott
|Michael J. Mooney|
But now supporters -- like 90-year-old California poet Doris Sutton -- hope newly sworn-in Gov. Rick Scott might be their angel of mercy. (Advocates point out that as an illegal immigrant, Balta will automatically be deported once he gets out of prison anyway.)
Balta's supporters hope one of the ways Scott reduces prison costs is by sending Balta -- who, at $50,000 per year, will cost the state at least $1 million if he serves the duration of his sentence -- back to Peru.
"We are still recovering from our disappointment that Antonio Balta was not considered for clemency," says Sutton, who has been Balta's staunchest advocate. "But strong, strong hope arises now that Rick Scott declares his intent to reform the prison system. That was his campaign promise, and he sounds like he really intends to do it."
She adds: "Antonio looks to us to be such an easy way to save up to a million dollars by releasing him now."
We wrote about Balta's case in an October cover story. At that time, former prosecutor Howard Scheinberg argued that the sentence was -- and still is -- fair. "Frankly, I'm surprised anybody is outraged over this sentence," he said. "It's not overly extreme. He killed his little girl."