After 43 years, Arkansas wants Michigan to return fugitive

(KATV) - He is a wanted fugitive but has been living freely in Michigan for 43 years. Now Arkansas wants him back behind bars.

Lester Stiggers was sent to a prison at a time when the Arkansas Department of Correction system was considered unconstitutional. A Michigan governor, at the time, claimed to have given Stiggers justice by keeping him out of prison.

Stiggers was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his father. But back then, inmates were given furloughs for good behavior. The governor in Michigan gave him asylum because of a so-called corrupt prison system here. He's been living there freely ever since.

"He left Arkansas illegally," said Shea Wilson, spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Corrections. "He's a fugitive from justice in this state and we are doing what we can to bring him back to Arkansas."

And Arkansas has been trying to do that ever since Stiggers fled prison in 1970. He was sentenced to life after murdering his father and only served four years.

"It's simply the principal of the matter," said Wilson. "He's a fugitive from justice in this state he owes Arkansas some time and if we did not try to get him back we wouldn't be doing our job."

Stiggers, now 63, has been living freely in Michigan while a fugitive here because of a quirk in the system. A former Michigan governor, gave Stiggers asylum after concluding that he had been treated unjustly. But extradition laws have since changed.

"He left illegally and it's our job to carry out the mandates of the courts," said Wilson.

The 63-year old, who's suffered two strokes can barely speak and is unable to work. He can't believe Arkansas still wants him back.

"The stroke damaged my voice and my leg I cannot walk," said Stiggers. "I don't know why, I just don't know why. I'm too old now and sick."

But the state of Arkansas says his current condition or health is not their concern.

"Its our obligation to try to get him back," said Wilson.

State officials are waiting on the current governor of Michigan to make a final decision.