72-year-old Willie Mae Harris was paroled after 34 years in prison for murdering her abusive husband
The 72-year-old Arkansas woman gets more than three decades on parole after spending 140 years in prison for murdering her physically violent husband
- 72-year-old Willie Mae Harris spent 34 years in Arkansas for life
- During her trial, she said her husband was trying to rape her and ‘swung her’
- Governor Asa Hutchinson, who approved her parole, said: “She has long been a victim of domestic violence [and] there was evidence for that ‘
A 72-year-old Arkansas woman has been released on parole for more than three decades after spending 140 years in prison for murdering her physically violent husband.
Governor Asa Hutchinson announced in March that he planned to transpose the sentence of Willie Mae Harris, who served 34 years in life at the Wrightsville Women’s Facility in Arkansas after being arrested for the murder of her husband in 1985.
Harris’s parole was approved on Wednesday and under state law she will be released within 45 days. Her original sentence was 140 years for first-degree murder.
Harris, who went blind in prison, has always kept her innocence.
In her testimony, she said her husband Clyde Harris accused her of having a sexually transmitted infection, tried to have anal sex with her, and then “swung her around.”
Willie Mae Harris Harris, now 72 and blind, was sentenced to life in prison in 1985. Since she first petitioned for executive leniency in 1998, the Arkansas parole board has recommended her five times for release
Depicted: Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson appears on ‘Meet the Press’ in Washington on February 24, 2019. Hutchinson has authorized the conversion of Willie Mae Harris’s sentence, serving a life sentence, to an Arkansas correctional facility for women.
She pulled a gun from her bag and said she started hitting Clyde, and a single shot accidentally went off and killed him.
Recalling her relationship with her husband, she said he would threaten to kill her and take physical abuse.
“She has been a victim of domestic violence for quite some time [and] there was evidence of that, “said Governor Hutchinson.
“She declared her innocence, but for many reasons I have graciously declared Willie Mae Harris.”
Criminal publication The Appeal, which has written articles calling for Harris’s release, spoke to her daughter Silvia Harris Wilkins, who said she cannot express her delight at the decision.
Governor Hutchinson decided on Wednesday to convert the sentence of Willie Mae Harris (pictured in 1985) and nonviolent drug offender Robert R. Johnson (right)
“My biggest fear was burying my mother in prison,” she said. “Knowing I don’t have to and she’s coming home is a relief.”
She said the 72-year-old will move to Texas to live with her and her sister.
Governor Hutchinson also decided on Wednesday to transpose the sentence of non-violent drug offender Robert R. Johnson.