Governor John Kasich commutes sentencing of women who served 15 years in prison for killing her abusive boyfriend
By: Eboni Walker
Thomia Hunter, 41, has been granted clemency after serving 15 years in prison for killing her abusive boyfriend.
On Wednesday, Cleveland.com reported Governor John Kasich commuted Hunter’s life sentence in prison.
Hunter’s lawyer, Tiffany Smith, received Kasich’s official letter stating Hunter will be set free July 15 if she completes a re-integration program ran by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Hunter’s case was up for parole after serving 15 years. But once the Ohio Parole Board looked into her case, they recommended for Kasich to commute Hunter’s sentence after seeing evidence that “battered woman’s syndrome was not presented at her trial.” There was other evidence that showed Hunter’s boyfriend, Andrew Harris had choked her, beat her and attacked her with a knife during an altercation that led to Harris’ death.
According to Cleveland.com, Hunter stabbed Harris 22 times, once in the leg, which severely damaged his femoral artery.
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#ThomiaHunter , a woman who was sentenced to life in prison for killing her abusive ex-boyfriend in 2005, has been granted #clemency by Ohio #GovernorJohnKasich . Hunter will be released in July 2019, according to Cleveland.com Hunter’s lawyer, Tiffany Smith, said they received the news via mail from Kasich’s office. Hunter was originally sentenced to life in prison in 2005 for murdering her ex-boyfriend after enduring years of abuse from him. In June of 2017, the Ohio Parole board discovered new information confirming that Hunter’s ex had viciously attacked her on that fatal night, which led them to believe she had been suffering from battered woman syndrome at the time of the murder. That information had reportedly not been revealed during her trial. Hunter’s release is conditional upon her completion of a reintegration program provided by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Grateful the Governor’s office commuted her sentence, Hunter says she hopes her case will shine a light on victims of domestic violence and abuse and how it can lead to violent offenses. Hunter’s release comes on the heels of the recent announcement of CynotiaBrown clemency in Tennessee. Hunter will be released on July 15th.
Hunter testified in court that she had broken up with Harris a few months prior to the incident took place. But he accused her of cheating on him and attacked her. She claimed he had severely beat her, choked her, poured hot sauce in her eyes and cut her with a knife before she stabbed him.
Hunter was found guilty and was convicted of murder and felonious assault.
The court reportedly did not find evidence where it was necessary for Hunter to fatally stab Harris. Prosecutors stated only blood belonging to Harris was found in the apartment.
In a letter written for her clemency, Hunter expressed remorse for her actions and apologized to both her and Harris’ family.
“I feel horrible every day about what my actions caused and how many people it has affected,” she wrote. “If I had a million words it would not cover what needs to be said and there will never be a day that will go that I will not regret what I did. It tears me up inside with just the thought of why this had to happen.”
Fifteen years later, the parole board found evidence that proved Hunter had suffered prior domestic abuse from Harris before the last altercation. They found that Hunter “genuinely feared for her life and had no way to escape his attack in the minutes before she stabbed him.”
Hunter was 26 when she was found guilty for murdering Harris, but she had been abused by him for many years before the 2004 incident.
According to Smith, the two met when they were teenagers and became best friends. Shortly after, the two began dating. Harris became violent towards her throughout the entire relationship. In her clemency letter, Hunter claims Harris first slapped her when he found hidden money in a shoe. The abuse level continued to grow after that day. Hunter said she tried to escape from Harris twice, but he would eventually find her and beg for her to return and promised he would change.
Smith said Hunter was grateful for the governor’s decision.
“I hope that this case will help people understand that there is more to the story and we need to try to understand it all before passing judgment,” Smith said on Wednesday.
Smith claims Hunter is only one of the many women in Cleveland who is serving prison sentencing for crimes committed during a domestic violence attack.
Before Kasich’s decision to release Hunter was made, Smith said a powerful message concerning the aggressions of males versus females.
“I think we still live in a pretty archaic society where women are supposed to be submissive,” Smith said. “If a woman is assertive or aggressive she is viewed as extremely evil, where men if they are aggressive, it’s less of a taint on their character because boys will be boys.”
By: Eboni Walker | Instagram: EboniMWA | Twitter: EboniMWalker
Source: Cleveland.com, Instagram