- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is denying a chance for freedom to a 71-year-old serving life in prison for his connection to a 1974 double slaying.

The governor announced Tuesday he has rejected a request to commute the life sentence of Atwell Conner, an inmate at the Anamosa State Penitentiary. Doing so would’ve made Conner eligible for parole.

Conner was 29 when he and two friends in Cedar Rapids went armed with a plan to commit robbery. The trio picked up two teenagers, Maureen Connolly and Michael Servey, whose car had run out of gas.

One of Conner’s friends, George Nowlin, raped and fatally shot Connolly. Nowlin later shot and killed Servey.

Conner was convicted of first-degree murder under Iowa’s felony-murder rule. Prosecutors argued he participated in a robbery before the deaths.

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