Governor Chris Christie issued 26 clemency orders; 25 pardons and one commutation of sentence, on Friday. Christie leaves office on Tuesday.
Eleven of the pardons were of individuals convicted on weapons possession charges and eleven were for drug possession charges. One pardon was for a driving while intoxicated. The commutation of sentence for was for the 1993 homicide conviction of an Ocean County woman.
Brian Aitken spent four months in state prison following his gun possession conviction in 2010. Christie commuted Aitken’s seven year sentence to time served on December 20, 2010. Aitken was arrested in January of 2009 for possessing handguns and ammunition that he had legally purchased in Colorado.
On March 20, 2012, Aitken’s convictions for second degree possession of a weapon and fourth degree possession of a large capacity ammunition magazine were overturned by the Appellate Division of the NJ Superior Court. The Court affirmed his conviction for possession of hollow point bullets. Christie’s pardoned Aitken of that conviction as well as a Simple Assault conviction.
John Pjeternikaj was convicted in 1983 on charges of unlawful sale of a weapon and arson. PolticsDW reports that Pjeternikaj, pardoned by Christie on Friday, was a donor to the Governor’s 2009 gubernatorial campaign, his 2016 presidential campaign, the NJ GOP and Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.
Lisa Pyatt, has been serving a 40 year sentence for the 1991 murder of Ryan McGowan, her fiance, since October 29, 1993. Pyatt is to be released as soon as administratively possible under Christie’s Commutation of Senatence Order. Pyatt would have been eligible for parole in 2023.
During her trial, Pyatt claimed she was a domestic violence victim and was defending herself when she killed her finance. She appealed her conviction, claiming that her trial attorney did not inform her of a plea offer of aggravated manslaughter charges. Her conviction was upheld.
In his eight years as governor, Christie has issued clemency to 55 individuals involving 52 pardons and 3 commutations of sentences.