Convicted killer meets the former Oklahoma governor who freed him

Former Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry, who commuted Aaron Cosar's life sentence and signed his parole, surprised the ex-convict Monday by dropping by the classroom where Cosar now teaches life skills to other former inmates.
By SEAN MURPHY, AP Published: June 25, 2013
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“I'm glad to hear he's doing well. I hope he continues.”

Now married and living in Bethany, Cosar, 47, teaches courses on workforce and relationship skills, anger management and how to transition to life outside of prison for TEEM. About 70 percent of the nonprofit group's clients are ex-convicts, and Cosar began working there after his release.

“It's a unique skill set to be able to identify and relate and also demand their best at the same time,” TEEM's executive director and former Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele said of what Cosar brings to the job.

Inside Cosar's classroom, signs hang on the wall that read “Forgiveness,” “Tolerance” and “Virtue.” A photograph of a gruff looking former Oklahoma prison warden Ray Little, a man Cosar described as a mentor, leans against a green chalkboard.

When Steele started at the agency about six months ago, Cosar told him he wanted to meet Henry and thank him for giving him another chance. Steele, a Republican from Henry's hometown, Shawnee, said he mentioned a possible meeting to the former governor, but it didn't become a reality until after Henry's daughter, Laynie, began working at the agency.

“I reached out shortly after I started here, but I think Laynie gets most of the credit for it,” Steele said. “She closed the deal.”

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The Education and Employment Ministry can be emailed at www.teem.org

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