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USC Law Students Fight To Get A Dying Woman Released From Prison

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Heidi Rummel is the co-director of the USC Gould School of Law's Post-Conviction Justice Project. (credit: CBS)

Heidi Rummel is the co-director of the USC Gould School of Law’s Post-Conviction Justice Project. (credit: CBS)

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A group of USC law students filed a formal request to Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday to grant parole to a 66-year-old terminally ill woman who has been behind bars for 25 years for killing her abusive partner.

Glenda Virgil was sentenced to 17 years to life for shooting Mark Cutler Garrett in 1986 in Dulzura, which is located near San Diego.

Members of the USC Gould School of Law’s Post-Conviction Justice Project (PCJP) have been working to free Virgil from the California Institute for Women for more than 10 years, but she has been denied parole eight times for a number of reasons.

Most recently, she was denied for smoking cigarettes and was deemed a “danger to society” by the parole board.

Brown has 30 days to review the parole board’s decision, but time may be running out.

Last September, Virgil was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

Heidi Rummel, the co-director of the PCJP, said, “We fear that this is Ms. Virgil’s last opportunity to return home.”

According to the PCJP, Virgil was molested by her parents, which led her to have abusive relationships, including one with Garrett.

“He came at her with a shovel and she shot him once with a shotgun,” said Rummel.

The PCJP hopes Virgil will be released given her cancer diagnosis, rehabilitation in prison and experts who said she killed in self-defense.

The group also wants Brown to review the case in light of AB 1593, which just went into effect Jan. 1.

“It requires him to give great weight to the evidence of intimate partner battery. And there is overwhelming evidence…that she suffered extremely at the hands of her abuser,” said Rummel.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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