COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Gov. Mike Parson granted clemency Wednesday to a Columbia man whose parole on a drug charge had been overturned by courts.
The Missouri Supreme Court in a one-sentence ruling March 31 overruled a motion for a rehearing in the case of Dimetrious Woods. The court ruled Feb. 4 that Woods must return to prison when it reversed a Cole County judge's order granting Woods a chance at parole for his 25-year sentence for drug trafficking.
Parson said Wednesday in a news release that he is commuting Woods' sentence because of Woods demonstrating through business and fatherhood that he is a contributing member of society. The rest of Woods' prison time will be served on house arrest, Parson said.
"This was an act of mercy for a man that had changed his life," Parson said in a news release. "Placing him on house arrest was the right choice under these unusual circumstances."
Woods said he was humbled to be the first person given clemency by Gov. Parson since the Polk County Republican took office in 2018. The two met Wednesday morning to discuss the situation, a meeting Woods said he was not sure he'd ever receive.
"He told me that I was chosen to give him confidence to spearhead more of the commutation program," Woods said. "So if I didn't have a burden before, I have an extra burden now to represent a class and culture of people."
Woods was found guilty of drug trafficking after he and a friend were pulled over while delivering cocaine from Kansas City to St. Louis in 2006. A judge ruled he was a "prior and persistent offender" and sentenced him to prison without parole.
He was released on probation in 2018 after a judge ruled that changes state lawmakers made to parole rules in drug cases were retroactive.
The state Department of Corrections appealed that decision to the Missouri Supreme Court, which ruled in February that the changes lawmakers made could not be applied retroactively.
Woods must still serve his prison sentence until October 2029. He'll be under the supervision of the Missouri Office of Probation and Parole until then, and state authorities could still send him back to prison should he violate parole.
Lawmakers from each side of the aisle took up Woods' cause. Rep. Cheri Toalson-Reisch (R-Hallsville) introduced him on the House floor in February. Rep. Kip Kendrick (D-Columbia) and Sen. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) also offered support.
Woods said he knows he'll be under a microscope. His concentration is on "the next right decision" to stay out of trouble. The work that his family and others he had not even met until the Supreme Court decision have helped.
"For people to pay attention, to care about me, that means a lot," Woods said. "I grew up believing I was nobody. So for that type of support, that gives me a lot of confidence."