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Democratic Senate candidate has two convicted murderers on his campaign staff
Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Democratic Senate candidate has two convicted murderers on his campaign staff

A Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate currently employs two convicted murderers on his campaign staff, according to government documents.

John Fetterman, the current lieutenant governor of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Democrat candidate vying for the Senate seat that Sen. Pat Toomey (R) will soon vacate, has on his campaign payroll Dennis and Lee Horton, two brothers convicted of murdering Samuel Alamo nearly 30 years ago.

In May 1993, the Horton brothers and co-conspirator Robert Leaf committed armed robbery at Filito's Bar in Philadelphia. During the execution of the robbery, three people were shot: Alamo, Luz Archello, and her daughter Luz Martinez.

After the Hortons and Leaf left the bar, a witness was able to give police a description of their getaway vehicle and a partial plate. The cops located the three men and the vehicle about a mile from the bar. Two guns were retrieved from the car, one of which was determined by forensics to be the rifle used in the shooting.

Alamo died from his injuries, but both Archello and Martinez survived and identified the three men as the robbers who had shot them. A third witness who was not injured in the robbery identified them as well.

The Hortons were convicted of second-degree murder, three counts of robbery, four counts of aggravated assault, conspiracy, and possession of an instrument of a crime and sentenced to life in prison. They served 27 years until December 2020, when the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, led by Fetterman, voted unanimously to free them.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fetterman had campaigned the board aggressively on behalf of the Hortons in particular, threatening to oppose current Democratic candidate for governor Josh Shapiro in the primary if he refused to vote to release them.

In February 2021, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) gave the Hortons and 11 other convicted murderers clemency and commuted their sentences to time served. Clemency reduces the sentences of convicted criminals, but does not exonerate them.

Dennis and Lee Horton, who have always maintained their innocence, now work for Fetterman's campaign. It is unclear when they joined the team.

Fetterman's Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, has called for Fetterman to dismiss the Hortons from his staff because of their violent history.

"John Fetterman consistently puts murderers and other criminals ahead of Pennsylvania communities," said Brittany Yanick, a spokesman for Oz. "John Fetterman’s even trying to hide his record from voters by running TV ads saying he’s tough on crime. His positions – including releasing one-third of inmates onto our streets – says otherwise as does the fact that he hired two convicted murderers on his campaign.

"If John Fetterman cared about Pennsylvania’s crime problem, he’d prove it by firing the convicted murderers he employs on his campaign," she added.

On Thursday, Oz issued a tweet thread about Fetterman's soft-on-crime approach and mentioned Samuel Alamo's name specifically.

The Fetterman campaign immediately fired back against the accusations.

"This smear is a sad and desperate attack from Dr. Oz’s shambolic campaign," a statement from Fetterman reads. "Going after two campaign staffers is a new low for Dr. Oz. Dennis and Lee, who were wrongfully convicted, are two of the kindest, hardest working people I know — fighting for their release was one of the proudest moments of my career and I'm honored to have them on this team."

"Does Dr. Oz believe that the wrongfully convicted should die in prison?" the statement added. "Does this man have any compassion? He’s making a predictable and fear mongering attack against two men who spent 27 years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit."

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