COLORADO SPRINGS – Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper granted a conditional pardon of local pastor Promise Y. Lee restoring all of his rights of citizenship except for firearm privileges.
In 1975, at the age of 15, Lee pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree murder for his role in the shooting death of a Fort Carson soldier named Daniel Hocking. It was a drug deal gone bad and Lee was the one who pulled the trigger.
In a letter to Lee, Hickenlooper stated that his conviction is an extremely serious crime and that he has not made the decision lightly.
“The family affected by your actions has suffered considerably over the years,” Hickenlooper wrote. “If it were within my power to remove their pain today I would.”
He went on to say that his decision was based on the work that Pastor Lee has done to transform the community.
“In particular, you have focused on youth growing up in difficult circumstances and helped them avoid the path you took as an adolescent,” the governor said. “I believe your work can, and possibly has, saved lives. I grant this pardon in large part to enable you to access more people who can benefit from your work and, hopefully, transform their lives as you have.”
After serving his sentence, Lee underwent a spiritual conversion. He leads the Relevant Word Christian Cultural Center in the same Hillside neighborhood where he grew up.
In announcing the news to his congregation on Sunday, he quoted from one of his favorite scriptures, Psalm 122 which reads in part, “I was glad when they said unto me let us go to the house of the Lord.”
“The day that I visited that church that I was invited to, that’s the day that my life really changed,” Lee explained.
While the pardon is an answer to prayer, Lee to the church that the document brings with it new responsibility. For example, he is now able to share his story of redemption in places where his criminal record have previously prevented him from going like prisons and overseas missions.
“The scripture says to who much is given, much is required, so now, I’ve been given more and so there’s more required of me.”
He said he has reached out, unsuccessfully, to the Hocking family. He asked the church to join him in praying for them on Sunday.
“My prayer and my hope are just that this family would get some healing somewhere out of this,” Lee said. “Hate is not going to expedite healing. Forgiveness is going to expedite healing.”
Lee’s pardon is one of 21 issued by the governor along with another 12 sentence commutations.