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Court orders judge to reconsider convicted killer’s release

November 3, 2021 GMT

DETROIT (AP) — A judge was ordered Wednesday to take another look at the case of a Detroit-area man who was told he could go home after more than 20 years in custody for murder and drug crimes.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow made mistakes when handling John Bass’ request for compassionate release and must reconsider the risk of getting COVID-19 in prison now that vaccines are available, a federal appeals court said.

In 2003, John Bass was convicted of violent crimes and was a candidate for the federal death penalty. A jury instead chose a life sentence.

Tarnow acknowledged Bass’ “horrific” crimes but ordered his release in January, saying he deserved a “well-earned second chance” after getting an education in prison and becoming a certified life coach. The release was subsequently halted by the appeals court while the government’s appeal could be heard.

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Tarnow said Bass weighs more than 300 pounds and has hypertension, conditions that posed a risk if he got COVID-19 at a federal prison in McKean County, Pennsylvania.

But much has changed at McKean, according to the appeals court, which noted that 83% of prisoners were fully immunized by this week.

Tarnow “also gave little weight to the concern that Bass’ release might endanger the public,” the appeals court said in a 2-1 decision.