ROLF KAESTEL

Rolf Kaestel,  who spent decades in prison for robbing a Fort Smith taco stand with a toy gun in 1981, has died less than three years after his release.

Kaestel, who lived in Sherwood, died Sunday at age 72, according to a brief obituary posted online by a Jacksonville funeral home. The obituary did not mention the robbery or the subsequent prison sentence.

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Two of Kaestel’s friends, Trent Wooldridge and Krissi Morris, wrote about Kaestel’s life and death on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Here’s a thread of nine tweets from Wooldridge. Click on the image below to read the entire thread.

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In July 2021, then-Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that he was commuting Kaestel’s sentence, thereby making Kaestel eligible for parole. Kaestel was 70 when he was finally freed after spending years in prisons in Arkansas and Utah for robbing the taco eatery of $264 with a water pistol. No one was hurt, and even the man he robbed argued for Kaestel’s release.

Kaestel was moved to a Utah prison years ago after he helped in the investigation of a blood scandal in Arkansas prisons.

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The injustice of Kaestel’s story drew national attention, including an article in The Daily Beast.

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