12/22/2005 AT 08:00 AM EST
Ethan Hawke has petitioned New Jersey's acting governor to grant clemency to Melvina McClain, a 65-year-old woman and Hawke family friend who has spent the last 16 years in prison for murdering her police officer-boyfriend.
On Monday, Hawke sent a letter to acting Gov. Richard J. Codey requesting McClain's ultimate release. The letter said in part that McClain should be freed "so she can live the last years of her life helping her children, her grandchildren and many other learn from her example of redemption," the Associated Press reports.
McClain was sentenced to 30 years for the shooting death of Detective Louis Glenn in a bar in 1986. McClain worked as a parking violations officer, and claimed that Glenn abused her during their relationship.
Hawke came to know McClain through his mother, Leslie Hawke, who met the convicted murderer and attended her trial. The two women have kept in touch through McClain's incarceration.
In an e-mail to the AP, Ethan Hawke called McClain "a woman important to my family."
In the letter to Gov. Codey, Hawke also cited a history of abuse dating back to her childhood, which is said to have resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder for McClain.
Leslie Hawke recently visited McClain in prison, which apparently prompted her son to write Codey. The governor's office said it could not comment because it had not yet seen the letter.