Longest-Serving Female Inmate, Betty Smithey, Now Free After 49 Years in Prison
Aug 15, 2012 10:30 AM EDT
On Tuesday, Betty Smithey walked out of the Arizona State Prison Complex in Perryville, a free woman after serving 49-years in prison for a murder in 1963.
Smithey, now 69, was charged and convicted of the murder of 15-month-old, Sandy Gerberick, whom she was baby-sitting. Smithey was 20 at the time. The murder came to be called as The New Year's Day Murder. She has also been accused of kidnapping Mitchel Johnson in 1959.
Smithey was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. According to the Law, anyone who receives a term of life in prison before 1973 is labeled considered an "old-code lifer," according to the Iquisitor, this means that only the State governor could grant clemency. After she repeatedly appealed to then Arizona-governors Fyfe Symington and later Janet Napolitano, both of who denied her clemency.
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Finally in June, the current state governor Jan Brewer, the current governor, accepted her plea and lowered her sentence to a 48 year prison term. She was granted parole by the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency on Monday in a 4-1 vote. And Tuesday was allowed to set foot outside the confinement of barbed wires and metal bars.
Andy Silverman, Attorney of Smithey told Yahoo News, "She's absolutely not a threat to society. She's almost 70 years old now...She's done a lot of reflection. Forty-nine years in prison, you think a lot about what you've been through."
Smithey, who has suffered from a number of serious health problems while in prison, including breast cancer, will be living with her niece in Mesa, Arizona.
"It's wonderful driving down the road and not seeing any barbed wire...I'm lucky," she said according to Yahoo News.