Man Who Was Given Life Sentence For Robbing Taco Shop With Water Pistol Set To Be Freed

by : Julia Banim on :
Man Who Was Given Life Sentence For Robbing Taco Shop With Water Pistol Set To Be FreedArkansas Dept of Corrections/PA

A man from Arkansas who was handed a life sentence after robbing a taco shop with a water pistol is now finally set to be freed, after spending 40 years behind bars.

Rolf Kaestel, who was convicted of aggravated robbery, was given a life sentence after using the toy gun to rob a Fort Smith shop in 1981. Nobody was hurt during the robbery, which saw Kaestel take $264.


Kaestel, 70, has spent years fighting for his freedom, and has made five bids for clemency during his lengthy sentence. Many criminal justice reform advocates have pushed for his release, as has the victim of the robbery.

Rolf Kaestel (Arkansas Dept of Corrections)Arkansas Dept of Corrections

In his most recent clemency request, as per The Guardian, Kaestel wrote:

[I] may yet have a few reasonably energetic and productive years remaining to me in which I may still make a truly substantive contribution to society.

I believe that I have demonstrated that I deserve the chance to do so, and I appeal for your consideration and favorable action to allow me to begin a new life. The ends of justice have been served with the unrelenting four decades of my incarceration to date.


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The governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, has now stated he intends to commute Kaestel’s sentence, making him immediately eligible for parole.

Although there will be a 30-day waiting period for public feedback before Hutchinson’s decision is deemed final, the governor has stated that there have been no objections from law enforcement in response to Kaestel’s latest clemency request.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, Arkansas, Now


The Guardian
  1. The Guardian

    Arkansas man given life for robbing taco shop with water pistol set to be freed