Ohio Governor John Kasich commuted a woman’s prison sentence after she served 15 years for killing her abusive ex-boyfriend.
Thomia Hunter will be released in July, reports The Associated Press.
The Ohio Parole Board recommended clemency after discovering evidence of battered woman syndrome was omitted from Hunter’s trial. To secure her freedom, Hunter must complete a re-integration program.
Hunter killed Andrew Harris during an early morning scuffle in 2004. Hunter claimed Harris accused her of infidelity and attacked her, reports Cleveland.com. He allegedly beat, choked and cut his then-girlfriend as she tried to escape him. Hunter grabbed a knife and swung it when Harris poured hot sauce in her eyes. She stabbed him in the leg and severed his femoral artery, which killed him.
Charged with felonious assault and murder, Hunter was sentenced to life in prison with a chance of parole after 15 years. Her parole hearing was scheduled for May.
The parole board examined the case and determined Harris' 22 stab wounds were applied with little force. It also discovered evidence of domestic violence before the fatal fight.
Despite the history of abuse at the hand of Harris, Hunter expressed remorse for his death in her clemency statement.
“I feel horrible every day about what my actions caused and how many people it has affected,” she wrote. “If I had a million words, it would not cover what needs to be said, and there will never be a day that will go that I will not regret what I did. It tears me up inside with just the thought of why this had to happen.”
Tiffany Smith, Hunter’s lawyer, hopes this decision will establish a needed precedent.
“I hope that this case will help people understand that there is more to the story, and we need to try to understand it all before passing judgment,” Smith said.
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