Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday granted clemency to Columbia business owner Dimetrious Woods.
After a three-year legal struggle, the governor’s action has commuted the rest of Woods’ sentence to be served under house arrest, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
Woods said his entire family was emotional, but the news especially impacted his mother.
“She was driving, and she started banging on the wheel and crying so hard,” he said, “she had to pull over and take a moment.”
Woods was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to 25 years without possibility of parole.
At the time, the “prior and persistent” sentencing statute mandated nonviolent drug offenders with prior convictions be sentenced within the range of 10 years to life without possibility of parole.
The law, however, was modified in 2014, and the sentencing statute was repealed.
After the repeal, Woods sought and was granted parole; he has been living and working in Columbia since 2017.
The retroactive application of the statute’s repeal to Woods’ case was challenged in court by the state Department of Corrections. In February, the case moved to the Missouri Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the DOC and declared the retroactive application of the 2014 legislation improper. That ruling meant that Woods and the approximately 120 other inmates sentenced under the now-repealed statute were no longer eligible for parole.
After the court declined to hear Woods’ request for a rehearing, he was slated to go back to prison at any time.
But Woods said that Monday he received a call from the governor’s office asking him to come to Jefferson City on Wednesday morning.
“When they suggested I bring one of my kids, I felt like I knew where it was going,” Woods said.
In granting Woods clemency, the governor cited his contributions to society as a businessman and a father.
“This was an act of mercy for a man that had changed his life. Placing him on house arrest was the right choice under these unusual circumstances,” Parson said in the release.
Woods said he’s regarding this as an opportunity for him to show why people in situations like his deserve a second chance.
He said he’s still, always, willing to help advocate for those who are still in prison with sentences like his.
“Now, I’m just looking forward to getting back to work. I’m trying to buy a new truck,” Woods said. “And I just want to thank the whole city of Columbia and everyone who supported me.”