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Howie Carr: Massachusetts Parole Board sets Clarence Carter, killer of 5, free

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Meet Clarence Carter, who despite murdering a family of five people, will soon be freed from prison at age 54 — the first major catastrophe in the state’s criminal-justice system this year.

But you can’t blame this one on Gov. Maura Healey. Oh sure, the new Democrat will no doubt be coddling plenty of her fellow Democrats in the years ahead, but this miscarriage of justice is all on Charlie Baker.

See, the Parole Board held its hearing on whether to cut this mass murderer loose last September, but the decision wasn’t announced until Jan. 12, after Charlie had fled the State House.

How convenient!

Clarence Carter was 17 years old in 1985 when he saw his former girlfriend kissing another man in Springfield.

“Something inside me snapped,” he told the court when he was sentenced in 1987.

After realizing his girlfriend had dumped him, Clarence got drunk, smoked some weed and popped a Valium. Then he got a can of gasoline.

He waited until 2 a.m., when the girl and her family were asleep. He broke into their house and poured the gas all around the first floor. Then he set a blanket on fire and torched the house.

Five people inside were burned to death. Investigators found a melted gasoline container in the ruins.

The five victims included his ex-girlfriend Renee McCoy, age 16, her 22-month-old daughter, her 3-year-old nephew, 19-year-old brother and 39-year-old mother. A 20-year-old woman, the sister of the victim, was the sole survivor. She had to jump out of a second story window.

Carter’s lawyer offered all the usual public-defender excuses. His client, he said, “regretted” killing everybody.

“Before this,” the mouthpiece said, “he had never done anything wrong in his life.”

How do they spout such nonsense with a straight face? But the Parole Board, in its decision, wasn’t much better. At his hearing, the board noted that his own explanation was that “given his age and immaturity, he did not know how to handle the breakdown of this romantic relationship.”

To paraphrase Dion & the Belmonts, why must he be a teenager in love?

The Parole Board also noted: “He has maintained sobriety throughout his incarceration.”

Sobriety? He’s been in stir for almost 40 years. Since when did the Department of Correction start getting liquor licenses? What are the hours at, say, MCI-Concord? When’s last call at Cedar Junction?

Then there’s the usual touchy-feely boilerplate about the quintuple murderer’s rehabilitation.

“He has incorporated the Board’s recommendations to pursue programming to address empathy and violence by the completion of Restorative Justice, Emotional Awareness and Alternatives to Violence.”

What does any of that even mean? What the hell is “Restorative Justice?” You know what the best Alternative to Violence is? The death penalty. When you execute stone-cold killers, the recidivism rate is zero. You could look it up.

“He has served as a mentor in the institution.”

Or as they used to say, he’s a role model for the younger inmates. Probably attends weekly religious services for the (fill in the blank: Muslim, Christian, Wiccan, etc. etc.) community blah-blah-blah.

Looks to me like Clarence Carter just learned, finally, how to game the system. You just give The Man what he wants. He finally absorbed this lesson after he’d been turned down for parole by 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016.

In 2001, he denied he’d set the fire. That didn’t help him out. After he was rejected in 2011, he filed an appeal that the Board noted “read with a lack of empathy and remorse and, further, conveyed a strong conviction that he was unfairly incarcerated.”

Carter’s excuse for that? He’d had another jailbird type up his appeal and “he did not read it carefully before he signed it.”

Don’t you hate it when you don’t bother to read your appeal for early release from prison after you murdered five people?

Other than the general disintegration of American society in recent years, probably the biggest thing Carter had going for him this time is that there was one witness who wasn’t there for the hearing in September who had appeared in 2016 – the father of the ex-girlfriend, who’d lost his wife, children and grandchildren in the blaze.

According to the account of the 2016 hearing, the father had objected, and I’m sure that’s an understatement. But for whatever reason, he didn’t show up in Natick last September, and that greased the skids for Carter’s get-out-of-jail free card.

With conditions of course. One of which is “no contact with victim’s family.”

That shouldn’t be too hard, considering he seems to have pretty wiped out the entire family. And by the way, the word should have been spelled “victims’” because there were five of them.

The vote to cut the murderer free was unanimous. One of the six votes belonged to a person named Santa — Colette Santa.

Santa (Claus) gave Clarence Carter an early Christmas present. And by the way, the other Clarence Carter, the singer, once recorded a song called “Back Door Santa.” But this Santa is letting this Clarence Carter out the front door.

Five people could not be reached for comment. Those were the people he murdered. Per ruling of the Parole Board, Clarence Carter has been rehabilitated. His five victims are still dead.

In the halls of justice, the only justice is in the halls.