Gov. Mills E. Godwin today asked Michigan Gov. William G. Millikin to review his decision to grant asylum to a man who escaped custody in Virginia two days after pleading guilty to drug charges.
In a three-page letter to Millikin, Godwin took strong exception to allegations by an attorney for the escaped convict. Alfred Odell Martin Jr., that he could not receive fair treatment in Virginia because of racial bias and might be killed by the state officials seeking his return.
Godwin wrote: "For him and his counsel to allege that, if returned to Virginia, he would not live for two days' and that the people of Michigan should not take part in the killing of Alfred O. Martin by returning him to Virginia and that he will suffer great bodily harm and perhaps lose his life in the hands of his adversaries who in this case are the officials seeking his return are statements so patently false that we must take exception to them.
"They are utterly absurd, devoid of truth reckless and irresponsible and it is difficult for us to understand how this felon has demonstrated that he is leading a most responsible life in your state."
Martin escaped from a minimum security city farm in Martinsville, Va., in 1973, two days after pleading guilty to two charges of possession of marijuana with intent to sell.
The charges had been reduced from sale of marijuana. He was sentenced to five years in prison on each charge, the minimum sentence provided for in the law. The court, however suspended all but six months of each sentence making it possible for him to serve his term in the Martinsville detention unit.
After walking away from a work gang. Martin fled to Detroit and eventually got a job as a consumer representative with the federal Food and Drug Administration. His fugitive status became known when he was arrested in Detroit for making an illegal turn in traffic. He fought extradition for two years until on Dec. 14, the Michigan governor granted him asylum.
Millikin told Godwin in a letter that the words of justice might best be served if (Martin) is allowed to remain in Michigan . . . where he has demonstrated to my satisfaction that he is leading a most responsible life."