A 74-year-old California woman is free after serving 32 years of a life sentence for her role in a 1981 killing.
Mary Virginia Jones walked out of Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood around 11 p.m. Monday and was met by joyful family and friends, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Jones was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery and sentenced to life without parole for a killing committed alongside boyfriend Mose Willis, who died while on death row.
Judge William C. Ryan ruled Monday afternoon that Jones had served well over the 11-year maximum sentence for the lesser crime and ordered her freed.
Jones’ new lease on life can inspire Floridians whose loved ones are still behind bars. The Sunshine State has had its fair share of wrongful convictions that were successfully overturned after new evidence was discovered. For families who are undergoing this problem, a trusted Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney like Richard Della Fera can help them and their loved ones modify their sentence, seek a reduction in charges or appeal a conviction and get out of prison.
A skilled criminal lawyer will do a comprehensive review of their case to properly analyze the facts and determine which elements are missing or were not emphasized in determining the verdict. In Jones’ statement, for example, she claimed that Willis forced her at gunpoint to help him rob and shoot two drug dealers and drive the getaway car leaving one victim dead. The defense noted that the jury failed to consider the fact that the couple was already in an abusive relationship at the time; Willis threatened to kill Jones and her daughter if they talked to the police.
The case study and additional evidence can be the basis for asking the court to modify a prison sentence. With the help of Post-Conviction Justice Project, Jones’ case was commuted from first-degree murder to a no-contest plea for involuntary manslaughter, of which, the judge decided, she has already served (involuntary manslaughter having a maximum sentence of 11 years). The prosecution agreed to the plea, and Jones was released soon after.
Life is short, but even shorter for wrongly convicted prisoners like Jones, who spent most of her active years behind bars. Their chance to attain freedom will be within reach if they enlist the services of the top Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney, Mr. Della Fera, whose expertise includes post-conviction relief.
(Source: Woman freed after serving 32 years in ’81 killing, Associated Press, 26 March 2014)