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Smaller set of death-row clemency requests get hearings Friday

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BATON ROUGE - The State Board of Pardons will move ahead with clemency hearings on several cases now that a judge has affirmed a deal that allows a handful of death row inmates to receive such consideration.

Clifford Deruise is among those on the pardon board's docket Friday. He was sentenced to death in the 1995 killing of infant Etienne Nachampassak during a carjacking in New Orleans.

The child's mother, Danna Nachampassak, was in court in Baton Rouge Thursday in hopes that Deruise would be blocked from efforts to have his sentence commuted to life in prison.

"There's not a second chance for my son. I don't see why Clifford Deruise gets a second chance," she said.

On Nov. 8, 1995, Etienne was shot to death off Magazine Street.

"He was 11 months old when he was shot by a carjacker, Clifford Deruise," his mother said. "He shot me four times. Blocked me in my car when he was carjacking me. I let him know I couldn't get out of the car. My car door was broken. He wouldn't let me out of the car.

"I told him I had children in the car. He pointed the gun at my children's heads. He unloaded all of his bullets into my car."

In Thursday's hearing, Judge Don Johnson chose not to alter the settlement reached last week between the pardon board and district attorneys from across Louisiana. 

Earlier this year, Gov. John Bel Edwards launched a process that could have given every condemned inmate a chance for a reduced sentence. That sparked a fierce debate and a court fight over the fate of Louisiana's death row inmates, and prosecutors and victims' advocates have been among the most vocal opponents.

"They want everyone to be off death row, without following the rules and procedures," said District Attorney Hillar Moore." We're just asking that the process be followed. We filed suit at the time, saying the process wasn't being followed."

The settlement dramatically reduced the number of inmates who could potentially have their sentences commuted.

But the deal didn't satisfy everyone, including Nachampassak.

"You never ever stop mourning the loss of your loved ones, especially when they are torn away from you senselessly," she said Nachampassak.


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