Arkansas wants fugitive granted asylum in Michigan sent back

Arkansas wants convicted killer granted asylum in Michigan sent back

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Michigan Governor Bill Milliken gave Lester Stiggers asylum in 1970. Michigan Governor Bill Milliken gave Lester Stiggers asylum in 1970.
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -

Lester Stiggers is a 63-year-old man who has suffered so many strokes he can barely walk or speak.  But in 1965 in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, he was a boy in Arkansas convicted of murder.  When Stiggers was just 14, he shot and killed his abusive father.

"I was always scared of him," he said.

However, Stiggers and his family say the judge and jury never heard any of that.

"The trial only lasted a day.  The lawyer that he had didn't even speak, didn't have any type of defense," said L'Downne Hampton, Stiggers' daughter.

The teen was sentenced to life in prison, a prison so brutal it was the subject of a federal court case, documentaries and a blockbuster movie.  Many prisoners were forced to pick cotton, tortured and murdered.

After five years behind bars, Stiggers was granted a furlough and temporarily released, and that is when he fled to Michigan.  Governor Bill Milliken offered him asylum based on the horrific conditions.

However, Stiggers and his daughter said he has never really felt free.

"He has never left the State of Michigan.  He lives in fear every day that he could go back.  Every time we're anywhere driving, if he sees the police, he gets afraid," Hampton explained.

Now this man's fears could soon be realized.  The State of Arkansas is asking Governor Snyder to send him back to finish that life sentence.

"Please don't send me back to Arkansas because I already know what they're going to do to me," Stiggers said.

Arkansas may want him sent back, but the question is what will Michigan do?  We took that question to Fox 2 legal analyst Charlie Langton.

"I don't think Governor Snyder is going to send this guy back to Arkansas.  Here's the deal.  You have to look at the last order of any legitimate court or governor.  That was Governor Milliken, and at the time Governor Milliken rightfully believed that he should not go back to Arkansas because of the disastrous state of the prisons there.  That's a legitimate order.  I believe the governor at the time has the absolute duty to investigate everything.  Governor Milliken did.  That's the last order of the court.  This guy's staying right here in Michigan," he said.

Stiggers and his family are hoping Langton is right and Stiggers will spend what is left of his life in the state he calls home.

"I'm hoping that Rick Snyder tells them no.  I'm hoping that he sends them something back saying at this point this man is 60 plus years old.  What do you have to benefit from bringing him back?  Just leave him alone," Hampton said.

Snyder's office told me this matter is still under review, and they can't say when the governor will make a decision.

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