The state is considering early release for a Hartford man convicted of killing his cousin in 1994.
Attorneys for Clyde Meikle, who is serving 50 years for murdering Clifford Walker with a shotgun, have recommended he get out in 2022 after serving 28 years. The potential release has generated strong feelings from both state officials as well as the victim’s family.
There were several starts and stops during Meikle’s speech in a Dec. 18 sentence modification hearing that was conducted virtually. Through tears, he said he’s as guilty now as he was when he killed Walker.
“The love between my family is still there -- but my actions -- makes it unspeakable,” Meikle said.
His attorneys say Meikle is a changed man.
“Mr. Meikle is no longer a rash young man battling substance abuse and making violent choices,” said Kate Levien, a Yale Law School student representing Meikle.
“Mr. Meikle has grown into a compassionate man who takes full and unqualified responsibility for the pain he has caused his entire extended family.”
Speaking on Meikle’s behalf during the hearing, former Department of Correction Commissioner Scott Semple credited Meikle with being a founding member of TRUE, a state DOC mentorship unit for young incarcerated adults.
“I truly believe that he has been redeemed,” Semple said. “I think he’s ready to go back out in the community as soon as possible.”
Meikle’s mentorship -- what he calls “insight through hindsight” -- is what has won over Semple and other high-profile local officials like James Rovella, commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
Meikle has earned his GED and an associate’s degree while in prison, and his team says he has enough credits to receive a bachelor’s degree.
But members of his own family -- those closest to Clifford Walker -- see Meikle differently. They see him as a man who killed another man over a parking spot.
“We have to go to the dirt to see my brother -- 26 years and you guys think it's OK," Kimberly Walker said during the hearing. “You think it’s all right because he got a degree?” she said, dismissing Meikle’s work in prison, saying he had nothing else to do while incarcerated.
Walker’s daughters had prepared a written statement for the hearing, but after an invitation from the judge, one of them spoke.
“It don’t matter if he come home today, tomorrow, next year, or did the whole time,” Natasha Walker said. “I’m still going to hurt, and I’m still going to feel the same way I feel because when you take somebody’s life, it don’t matter what you went to jail and accomplished -- you got sentenced that time, you’re supposed to do that time.”
Shanika Walker, the other daughter, said through a written statement that she wishes Meikle would stay in prison for the full 50-year term.
A state inmate database says that Meikle’s sentence began with his admission on Nov. 7, 1994, and will run out on Nov. 5, 2044.
If he is released early, his attorneys say he’ll live with his sister in Windsor and work for the chief operating officer for the city of Hartford.
The next hearing -- where a decision could be made regarding Meikle’s sentence -- is scheduled for Jan. 15.