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Biden Pardons Woman Who Shot Husband in 1976, Changed Course of Trials of Battered Women; Noem Sets Free Drunk Driver Who Worked in Governor’s Mansion

Among his end-of-year acts of mercy, President Joe Biden pardoned an 80-year-old woman who shot her abusive husband 47 years ago. She was convicted of second-degree murder and served her sentence, but her case paved the way for other women who fight back against their abusers to defend themselves in court:

As described by the White House, Beverly Ann Ibn-Tamas, now 80, was convicted in 1977 “of murder in the second degree while armed for killing her husband.

“Ms Ibn-Tamas, 33 at the time of the incident, was pregnant and testified that before and during her pregnancy her husband beat her, verbally abused her and threatened her. According to her testimony, her husband had physically assaulted her and threatened her in the moments before she shot him.

“During her trial, the court refused to allow expert testimony regarding battered woman syndrome, a psychological condition and pattern of behavior that develops in victims of domestic violence” [Martin Pengelly, “Biden Pardons Ohio Woman, 80, Who Killed Abusive Husband Decades Ago,” The Guardian, 2022.12.30].

Governor Kristi Noem also cut some executive slack for three fatal females over the holidays. However, the Board of Pardons and Paroles twice denied one of Noem’s commutees, Tammy Kvasnicka, an early release. The only fact recommending this repeat drunk driver (blood alcohol over 0.2 at the time of the fatal accident) for Noem’s commutative grace appears to be that she scrubbed the ashtrays at the Governor’s mansion:

In one of the seven commutation cases, public records show the Board of Pardons and Paroles denied commutation applications from Tammy Kvasnicka in 2018 and again earlier this year. Until her commutation, Kvasnicka had been in prison 12 years on a 60-year sentence, with 22.5 years suspended by a judge, after causing a 2010 fatal traffic crash in Sioux Falls. Kvasnicka was under the influence of alcohol at the time and driving the wrong way on an interstate.

…“To my knowledge, we looked at Tammy Kvasnicka and recommended not granting a commutation at this time,” said Gordy Swanson, member of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. “I don’t recall looking at any of the other ones.”

…The Dakota Scout, a newspaper and website based in Sioux Falls, cited “sources within the Department of Corrections and former inmates at the Women’s Prison in Pierre” in a report stating Kvasnicka had worked at the Governor’s Mansion while incarcerated. The Dakota Scout also noted that Kvasnicka has an unresolved charge for driving under the influence [Seth Tupper, “Noem Goes Against Board, Victims’ Families, and Review Process to Reduce Prison Sentences,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2022.12.30].

Boy, Kvasnicka must have heard some really juicy conversation between Noem and Corey Lewandowski at the mansion to get this commutation.

Kvasnicki’s crime did more damage than Jason Ravnsborg’s deadly 2020 car crash. Is Noem going to commute Ravnsborg’s sentence as well? Or was his slap on the wrist already light enough?

4 Comments

  1. Nick Nemec 2023-01-02

    Ravnsborg’s removal from office and lifetime ban on holding office in South Dakota can’t be reversed by a gubernatorial pardon. Not that there was ever a risk of that.

  2. Brian Moore 2023-01-02

    Thanks for your work on this.

    I can’t help but keep thinking that what these people Noem pardoned have in common must be they have found Jesus in the right way, as viewed by Noem. Because her singular skill is judging who is and is not Christian enough, and in the right way. I would think that eventually a connection in the right congregation somewhere would explain this all.

  3. Eve Fisher 2023-01-03

    (1) The inmates from the Women’s Prison clean the Capitol Building and the Governor’s Mansion in Pierre; so she probably actually kind of knows these people, and believes whatever they tell her, because they know enough to flatter her.
    (2) I know for a fact that the Parole Board voted unanimously to commute the sentence of 2 inmates at other facilities. She signed neither of their commutations. But I suppose she figures what the hell do they know…

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