A request for clemency made by a woman imprisoned in New York has drawn the attention of state Sen. Michael Nozzolio, who is calling on Gov. David Paterson to deny the request.

Nozzolio issued a press release Wednesday calling on Gov. Paterson to deny Holly Coomber’s clemency request in connection with Donna Guerriri’s murder in 1986. Nozzolio said he was contacted by Guerriri’s family informing him that Coomber was seeking clemency.

According to archived news stories and a WE TV report, Guerriri was employed at Kwik Fill convenience store in Seneca Falls when Coomber and her foster father, William Allen, robbed the store. During the robbery, Allen shot and killed Guerriri.

News reports also say Allen and Coomber were involved in a similar robbery in Georgia prior to the Seneca Falls robbery. Like the Seneca Falls robbery, the clerk at the convenience store was shot and killed by Allen.

As part of a deal to avoid murder charges, Coomber, who was 17 at the time of the murders, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and first-degree robbery and is serving her sentence at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility.

Nozzolio believes Coomber should remain in prison, saying the combination of her actions and lack of remorse “does not warrant leniency.” He also sent a letter to Gov. Paterson and asked those who wish to voice their opposition to Coomber’s appeal for clemency to contact the governor’s office.

“It is my firm and unequivocal belief that she should remain in prison without any consideration of clemency or parole,” Nozzolio said in a statement. “On behalf of Donna Guerriri’s family, I demand that justice continue to be served, and that Holly Coomber NOT be released from prison.”

The efforts to free Coomber include a website, hollycoomber.net, where information about her clemency petition is available and individuals can sign a petition supporting Coomber’s clemency efforts.

According to the website and the report from WE TV, Holly Coomber was subjected to abuse, including sexual abuse from her foster father. Those supporting Coomber posted a message on the website outlining Coomber’s life and said Holly should be released from prison.

“Throughout her life Holly has been abused and neglected by the people and government authorities charged with her protection and welfaire,” a message on the website reads. “Yet, after being driven into a snake pit of fear and desolation, she has risen like a phoenix and grown into a remarkable woman: educated, compassionate, and relentless in her desire to find ways to prevent the kind of life she has suffered from ever being brought upon others.”

Coomber is serving 12 1/2 to 25 years in prison. The earliest date for her release is March 2, 2018, according to the state Department of Corrections website, but she could serve a maximum sentence until 2030.

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at 253-5311 ext. 220 or robert.harding@lee.net

 

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