Republican Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz called on his Democratic opponent John Fetterman to fire two campaign staffers whose murder sentences Fetterman pushed to commute as lieutenant governor.
Two brothers, Dennis and Lee Horton, were convicted of second-degree murder in 1993 after they were arrested while driving a friend who had reportedly shot and killed a man during a robbery, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Although the Hortons and their friend Robert Leaf proclaimed the brothers’ innocence, they were sentenced to life in prison. Fetterman began pushing for the Hortons to be released from prison, and Gov. Tom Wolf commuted their sentences in February 2021 under recommendation from the state Board of Pardons.
Both Hortons are currently paid staffers on the Fetterman campaign, Federal Election Commission records show. The Oz campaign called on Fetterman to fire both men in a Thursday statement.
Oz campaign calls on @JohnFetterman to fire convicted murderers on campaign staffhttps://t.co/0q8rLu9YhA
— Rachel Tripp (@retripp) September 1, 2022
“John Fetterman consistently puts murderers and other criminals ahead of Pennsylvania communities,” Communications Director for Doctor Oz for Senate Brittany Yannick said. “John Fetterman’s even trying to hide his record from voters by running TV ads saying he’s tough on crime. His positions – including releasing one-third of inmates onto our streets – says otherwise as does the fact that he hired two convicted murderers on his campaign. If John Fetterman cared about Pennsylvania’s crime problem, he’d prove it by firing the convicted murderers he employs on his campaign.”
The Horton brothers and their attorneys accused police and prosecutors of misconduct during the trial and on appeal. Police used an identification technique on the brothers known as a suspect confrontation. The technique is no longer considered acceptable by the Philadelphia Police Department because it is considered to be “improperly suggestive.”
The Oz campaign did not note in its statement that the Hortons were improperly identified as being present at the robbery and murder by eyewitnesses.
During the murder trial, prosecutors presented witnesses who testified that Dennis Horton was the shooter, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. However, prosecutors later produced notes during the appeal process indicating that Leaf had confessed to the crime and denied the Hortons’ involvement. One note reportedly read “Leaf is shooter.” (RELATED: John Fetterman Attends Ritzy Hamptons Fundraiser While Continuing To Duck Debates)
Fetterman blasted the Oz campaign’s comments in a statement.
“Going after two campaign staffers is a new low for Dr. Oz. Dennis and Lee, who were wrongfully convicted, are two of the kindest, hardest working people I know — fighting for their release was one of the proudest moments of my career and I’m honored to have them on this team,” he said.
“Does Dr. Oz believe that the wrongfully convicted should die in prison? Does this man have any compassion?” Fetterman asked.
Throughout his political career, Fetterman has supported releasing convicted felons from prison. He bragged that the Wolf-Fetterman administration “conferred more pardons in Pennsylvania than any administration in history” during a November 2021 event.
“A record will quite literally follow you through the rest of your life costing you better job opportunities, better housing opportunities, better employment opportunities and all kinds of other things that really aren’t fair in my opinion quite frankly,” Fetterman said at the time.
Fetterman also called for the legalization of marijuana, claiming that criticism of that position from Oz and his team is “bullsh*t.”