FOXBOROUGH — Patriots safety Devin McCourty has enlisted the help of his team in his ongoing effort to persuade Governor Charlie Baker to free William Allen, a Brockton man who has served 27 years and counting in prison.
McCourty recently presented Allen’s case to the Patriots, prompting players, coaches, and other staff members to collectively pen two letters to Baker. Coach Bill Belichick, senior football adviser Matt Patricia, defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington, and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels led the list of 26 signatures from the staff.
Special teams assistant Joe Houston individually wrote a note, as well.
“To Governor Baker,” Houston began. “I am writing you this letter in reference to granting commutation to William Allen’s case that was introduced to our football team by Devin McCourty. People say, ‘Life is the most precious thing you can lose.’ However, in William Allen’s life, he has everything to gain.”
Allen was charged with first-degree felony murder in 1994 and convicted in 1997. A jury ruled that Allen was a joint venturer in the armed robbery of a reputed drug dealer. Even though another man involved in the robbery committed the murder, Allen was still charged with first-degree murder because he participated in a felony that resulted in a death.
At the time, Allen could have accepted a deal in which he would have pled guilty to second-degree murder and received a life sentence with the possibility of parole, but he declined. Prosecutors offered the same deal to the killer, who accepted and has been out on parole since 2009.
Allen, meanwhile, is still serving his life sentence at Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater. His future lies in the hands of Baker, who is able to exercise his power of executive clemency. By doing so, Allen’s conviction would stand, but his sentence would be reduced.
Massachusetts governors have commuted only one sentence since 1997.
Following a hearing in June, the Massachusetts Parole Board announced their unanimous support for commutation. The victim’s sister and daughter are also in support of Allen’s release.
McCourty has been an important advocate throughout the process, speaking at a rally and writing a letter of his own to Baker. He has also chatted with Allen via Zoom.
“He talked with me about his hope and dream to have the opportunity to steer young people away from making mistakes like he made,” McCourty wrote in his letter. “He wants to be a difference-maker in the lives of others.”
Houston echoed McCourty.
“The positive impact that William can have on other young, inner-city men to prevent them from making the same mistakes he made years ago could have ever-lasting effects on society that could last generations,” Houston wrote to Baker.
“I am writing this letter in support of Devin’s letter that he wrote to you about the precious decision you have to grant freedom to a rehabilitated man who served his time in prison for a poor decision he made when he was 20 years young. I pray you make the right decision.”
The letters from McCourty, Houston, and the Patriots represent four of nearly 2,000 that have been addressed to Baker in recent weeks.
Nicole Yang can be reached at email@example.com.Follow her on Twitter @nicolecyang.