More than 13 years ago, 21-year-old Florida resident Ryan Holle was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for premeditated murder. The incident that led to his imprisonment occurred in March of 2003 when Holle lent his vehicle to a roommate and went to sleep in his apartment. During the night, Holle’s roommate and three others drove to the home of a drug dealer and attempted to rob him. During the robbery, the men murdered the dealer’s 18-year-old daughter.
Although Holle was asleep at his apartment during the robbery and killing, he was still convicted of premeditated murder because he lent his friend the vehicle used during the crime. The prosecution even acknowledged the fact that Holle was nowhere near the scene when it happened, but despite the evidence proving his innocence, he was sent to jail. A decade later, Holle is still behind bars, and it seems his case is being brought back into the spotlight.
Charles Grodin, a Golden Globe winning actor and comedian, has been outspoken in his support for Holle and objection of the Felony Murder Rule under which the now 31-year-old was jailed. The Felony Murder Rule basically says that any person involved in committing a felony where somebody was killed is guilty of murder. The armed robbery that Holle’s roommate committed with his car was a felony, and because Holle lent his car to his friend, he was therefore convicted of murder despite not actually being involved. Grodin recently expressed his feelings about Holle’s case in an article published by The Nation.
“I have been advocating on behalf of clemency for Ryan, who was first offered a plea deal of ten years but chose to go to trial,” wrote Grodin in the piece. “I’m sure it was difficult for a young man, who had never been arrested, and who believed he had done nothing to accept that he should go to prison for ten years, so he went to trial, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. He is now in his eleventh year of incarceration.”
“Again, this is a young man who was home asleep in bed at the time of the crime,” continued Grodin. “I personally know of no other felony murder conviction where the person was not even present, and the pre-meditated part of the conviction suggests that Ryan knew his car was going to be used in the course of a murder, which to me, isn’t credible. To the best of my knowledge, in the entire history of the criminal justice system in America, no one has ever been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for loaning a car and going to sleep.”
Grodin is now taking his plea to the American public in the hopes that Holle can soon be released from prison. The comedian says that if Holle gets out, the 31-year-old plans to become an activist.
“Ryan writes me from prison telling me that when he gets out, he plans to speak out against the Felony Murder Rule,” wrote Grodin. “Unless people of good will and common sense publicize his case, Ryan Holle will die in prison.”
After The Nation published the article, Grodin posted an update saying that Holle was recently denied clemency.