Prosecutors said mandatory life with no parole for first-degree murder is Michigan's promise to victims' families, a trade-off for not having the death penalty.
The parole board will take longer than normal to give Granholm a recommendation because of the volume of materials to review.
Chairwoman Barbara Sampson said the board has no authority to exonerate Paredes. It instead will address typical questions in parole and clemency cases: Does the punishment fit the crime? Does a prisoner pose a risk to society? Has he or she made progress in prison?
Usually, the board also wants to see remorse. But Paredes has continually said he's innocent, prompting an assistant attorney general and board members to spend much of the hearing probing evidence.
They heard two competing versions of what happened.
Prosecutors said Paredes planned and executed a ``thrill kill.'' He was the last worker to punch out before the after-hours homicide. A teen who served time for his role in the crime told jurors he picked up Paredes from the store after Paredes shot Tetzlaff and took $11,000 in cash and checks.
But Paredes' mother said he was home during the murder, insisting she saw Tetzlaff himself drop her son off before returning to the store. Supporters said those responsible for the crime lied, cut deals and pointed the finger at Paredes to save themselves.
Paul Ciolino, a Chicago-based private investigator who was hired by the Paredes family and has helped free five men from Illinois' death row, called his case a ``classic'' wrongful conviction.
The trial ended just 31/2 months after Paredes' arrest. Paredes said he had an ``inept'' lawyer who didn't investigate on his behalf or counter negative pretrial publicity coming from law enforcement.
The jury foreman was a coworker of the victim's wife's aunt. Paredes alleged the foreman was crucial in persuading other jurors who initially voted 9-3 for acquittal. Prosecutors said state and federal courts have upheld the conviction.
Both sides are so much at odds that they can't even agree on Paredes' first name. His family says it's ``Efren,'' law enforcement and prison officials have it as ``Efran.''
Paredes' odds of release probably are slim, though he may stand a better chance than at any other time during Granholm's six years in office.
In her first term, the Democratic governor commuted nine sentences of sick or aging inmates thought to be close to death. Since winning re-election and creating a clemency council in 2007 to help review cases and trim high prison costs, Granholm has ended 52 prison terms early—many for non-medical reasons.
She has commuted 14 first-degree murder sentences this year. Those offenders spent an average of 37 years in prison before their release. Some were ill.
``This prisoner is not either of those,'' said Berrien County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Michael Sepic, who tried Paredes' case.
Paredes' backers said age should be a factor but in the other direction. He was 15 when the crime was committed and 16 when he was convicted.
Supporters said even if Paredes did murder Tetzlaff, juveniles shouldn't be treated the same as adults when they're deemed too young to vote, for example.
``I could have turned out to be the person others have tried to make me out to be,'' Paredes said. ``I'm asking for a second chance to reclaim my life.''
David Eggert can be reached at: [email protected]
On the Net: The Injustice Must End: http://www.4efren.com