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Schaefer paroles battered woman convicted of murder


Carolyn Sue Wallace, one of a group of women convicted of murder and considered for early release by Gov. William Donald Schaefer because they said they were victims of battered-spouse syndrome, was paroled yesterday.

Wallace, 41, who was sentenced to 20 years after pleading guilty to shooting her husband to death in 1985 in Baltimore County, was freed from the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup, officials said.

Her release came just days after Mr. Schaefer said he wanted her released "as soon as possible." The Maryland Parole Commission had recommended that she be freed on or about July 1.

Wallace said in an interview Friday, when she learned that her parole had been approved, "I feel like my whole life is just starting over today. I just can't wait to hug my kids -- that's my top priority."

Her children, now 13 and 14, are living with her sister in Florida.

Wallace, who has been working as a prison supply clerk for the past three years, said Friday that when she got word on the parole, "I jumped up and called my sister in Florida.

"I'm kind of numb," she said. "You hear good news and you say, 'Is this reality?' "

Nancy J. Nowak, executive director of the governor's Office of Justice Assistance, said that Wallace would be in the Baltimore area for a short time and then probably move to Florida, under an interstate parole agreement with that state.

Wallace shot her husband in the back six times and only recently began speaking of physical abuse by him. An incest victim herself, she said at the time of the killing that she feared her husband would abuse her daughter.

Mr. Schaefer had asked the Parole Commission to investigate further the cases of four women imprisoned for murder, after he passed them over earlier this year in commuting the sentences of eight other women -- including seven who killed their mates -- who said they were victims of battering.

Another of the four women, Gale Annette Hawkins, 34, who has been in prison since she stabbed her boyfriend to death in 1979, would be paroled in the next few weeks, according to Ms. Nowak and Paul J. Davis, chairman of the Parole Commission.

The governor ruled out any action in the case of Joyce Danna, a third inmate under consideration, and has not made up his mind in the case of Marie Lake, a fourth woman imprisoned for killing her abusive boyfriend, Ms. Nowak said.

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