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Governor Frees Man Sentenced To Prison For Mobile Home Fire

July 23, 1987

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ A police chief lost his job and a district attorney says he will retire after prosecutors determined that an innocent man was imprisoned for more than eight months for arson in a mobile home fire.

Gov. Bill Clements pardoned Claude Gene Grinder, 25, on Tuesday, and he was to be released following the completion of paperwork in the case, said Mike Roach, a spokesman for the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Grinder was sentenced to six years in prison last fall after wrongly confessing to a September mobile home fire in Canadian, Roach said.

Hempill County District Attorney Guy Hardin, who sought the pardon, said he’ll retired as a prosecutor at the end of his term next year because of the ″screw-up.″

Grinder confessed to the arson in November after being extradited from his home in Arkansas.

He told the Pampa News in May that he confessed because he didn’t believe his alibi that he was visiting his mother in Arkansas would be strong enough.

Hardin said Grinder made the confession to win some points with the Corrections Department because he was on probation on a forgery sentence.

Hardin said he learned of Grinder’s innocence this spring after a student in a law enforcement class in Amarillo taped a lecture by former Canadian Poilice Chief John Bradshaw and brought him the tape.

Bradshaw was quoted as telling the class ″we had a fellow in Canadian on probation and we took his confession and extradited him, but I know he didn’t do it,″ the Pampa News reported.

Bradshaw was suspended April 22 in connection with his comments to the class and was fired May 13, due mostly to excessive absences, City Manager Dean Looper said.

Bradshaw has said he doesn’t remember saying such a thing.

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