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Republicans, vets urge Walker to pardon former Marine

Apr. 29, 2014 - 11:30AM   |  
Eric Pizer, an Iraq War veteran, with his wife Jennifer Harris, stepdaughter, Bella, 12, and son, Xander, 4, at their home on Dec. 18, 2013, in Madison, Wis. Pizer is seeking a pardon for a 2004 felony conviction from a bar fight that occurred two days after he returned home from war.
Eric Pizer, an Iraq War veteran, with his wife Jennifer Harris, stepdaughter, Bella, 12, and son, Xander, 4, at their home on Dec. 18, 2013, in Madison, Wis. Pizer is seeking a pardon for a 2004 felony conviction from a bar fight that occurred two days after he returned home from war. (Amber Arnold / AP)
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MADISON, WIS. — Veterans and Republican supporters of Gov. Scott Walker are among the dozens of people who have asked that Walker pardon a decorated Iraqi War veteran who wants a pardon from a felony conviction he got for fighting after he returned from his second combat tour.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports Tuesday that Walker is not budging on his position against issuing any pardons.

Four dozen people have sent emails and letters to Walker urging him to pardon Eric Pizer, a combat veteran and former corporal in the Marine Corps. Just one writer said Pizer, of Madison, should not be given leniency.

Pizer was convicted of a felony after he broke a man's nose in a fight in Boscobel just days after he returned from Iraq in 2004. Pizer, then 23, was charged with felony substantial battery and pleaded no contest. He served two years' probation and paid the victim's $7,165 in medical bills.

In the 10 years since then, Pizer has earned an associate's degree in criminal justice with hopes of becoming a police officer. But as a felon, Pizer is prohibited from carrying a gun.

A pardon would not erase the conviction but it would restore Pizer's right to possess a firearm.

Pizer backer, Jeff Engstrom, attached a photo of himself and his wife attending a Walker campaign event in his request that the governor issue a pardon.

"I've been processing all the information to the best of my ability and I must tell you that I don't understand your position," Engstrom wrote, adding, "I submit Eric Pizer is a classic example of why the power to pardon exists."

Another Walker supporter, Stan Updike, a member of the Wisconsin Air National Guard from Boscobel, made a similar plea.

"I know your view on pardons," Updike wrote. "I know you stand strong, that's why you got my vote, twice. But this issue needs to be addressed."

The state constitution gives only the governor the power to pardon.

"Early in his administration, Gov. Walker made the decision not to issue pardons," said his spokeswoman, Laurel Patrick. "The criminal justice system has a process by which, if someone's innocent, they can be granted a change in their sentence through the court system."

Walker's main Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, said if elected, she would revive the board that makes recommendations to the governor on pardons.

Pizer said he's encouraged by all the support but resigned to the likelihood that Walker will not change his mind.

"I'm to the point where I think my only hope is for Walker to lose the election," Pizer said. "So far there isn't a single person who can do anything about it, other than Gov. Walker."

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