Local residents have created an on-line petition asking Governor Mike Beebe to pardon Andrew James (A.J.) Cody or reduce his 20 year sentence for the second degree murder of Lee Britton. The petition, hosted on the website change.org, has already garnered more than 700 cyber-signatures since the jury returned its guilty verdict Wednesday.
The proceedings have been the focus of intense public interest as the young father was tried for shooting a man accused of molesting his daughter. Public opinion has been divided between those who feel that it is wrong for a person to take the law into their own hands regardless of the circumstances, and those who feel that they must act to protect their children when they feel that the system has failed them.
Some holding the latter opinion decided to protest yesterday in front of the Pope County Courthouse demanding Cody's immediate release. Others, such as Cassie Jones of Dover, decided to take to the internet to appeal directly to the governor for leniency.
It is unclear whether the petition will induce Beebe to act, but it would not be the first time that change.org hosted a petition that preceded if not precipitated change. The state of Florida recently initiated prosecution of George Zimmerman for shooting Trayvon Martin after an on-line petition garnered 2.2 million signatures.