COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Outgoing Ohio Gov. John Kasich has commuted the life sentence of a woman convicted of killing her ex-boyfriend who she said abused her for years.
Thomia Hunter's lawyer says the Republican governor's decision will allow her to be released in July.
The Ohio Parole Board had recommended the Cleveland woman's sentence be commuted after it found the issue of her abusive ex-boyfriend never came up at her trial.
Cleveland.com reports the board also said evidence backed up Hunter's claims that the man choked her and attacked her with a knife before she fatally stabbed him in 2004. She was sentenced to life in prison in 2005.
Cincinnati attorney Tiffanny Smith began representing Hunter in 2017 as part of the Ohio Justice & Policy Center’s Incarcerated Survivors of Domestic Violence project. Smith led the team that applied for clemency and pursued freedom on Hunter's behalf.
“Mia should have never been incarcerated in the first place,” Smith said in a written statement. “She killed her ex-boyfriend because he was going to kill her if she didn’t stop him. It was truly a ‘kill or be killed’ situation.”
Hunter provided this statement from prison:
“I would first like to offer my deepest regards to the Harris family. Eventually I hope that they can find it in their hearts to forgive me!!! I am humbled and over-appreciative for all that Governor Kasich has done for me!!! I am truly grateful for a second chance. TODAY IS A HUGE STEP IN COMBATING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE!”
Clemency applications were filed for 13 women in Ohio, including Hunter, who were imprisoned for killing their abusers in November of 2017, according to the OJPC. Hunter said she plans to volunteer to help other survivors of domestic violence once she is released from prison.
Kasich also this week decided to pass on a clemency request from former Republican fundraiser Tom Noe.
Noe is serving an 18 year-sentence for his role in a state investment scandal.