A 74-year-old woman has been released from prison after serving more than three decades for a crime she has now been cleared of.
Meet Mary Virginia Jones. On Monday, she was released from prison in Los Angeles. A judge reduced her original sentence and set her free, based on evidence that proved she was forced into the 1981 crime by her abusive boyfriend.
She was originally convicted of first-degree murder without the possibility of parole, facing life in prison. Then, a group of law students from the University of Southern California's Post-Conviction Justice Project started to look into the case. What they found was not a story about a dangerous offender, but rather a woman forced into the crime by an abusive boyfriend. Via KTLA:
In the 1981 crime, Jones was held at gunpoint and ordered to drive two kidnapped men to an alley where they were later shot, the release stated. One of the men died as a result of his injuries, Gilien Silsby of USC Gould School of Law said.
The USC students representing Jones argued that she would not have been convicted if the jury in the case had heard expert testimony on the effects of Battered Women's Syndrome, also known as intimate partner battering, according to the release.
Before the crime, Jones never had a run-in with the law, worked full time for the Los Angeles Unified School District as a teacher's aide and was raising her children, Heidi Rummel of the USC Project said.
According to KTLA, (and the understatement of the year) Jones and her family was overjoyed by the news:
Family and friends greeted Mary Virginia Jones with hugs and flowers as she walked out of Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood shortly before midnight. "Words cannot express my gratitude to God and to my fellow man," Jones said after being released.
A granddaughter said she was just happy to have her grandmother back. "Finally our family is connected at home, and I'm glad I finally get to have a grandmother in my life, and I missed that," she said.
Image via AP Images.