Posted: Jan 7, 2011 10:49 PM by Matt Stafford
Updated: Jan 7, 2011 10:56 PM
Nearing the end of his term, Governor Bill Ritter announced 28 pardons and commutations Friday afternoon; and there was a shocking one on the list to some -- commuting the life sentence of Jennifer Reali who was convicted in 1992 in the murder of her lover's wife in Colorado Springs. She shot 32-year-old Dianne Hood as Hood was leaving a lupus support group at the Otis Park Community Center in September, 1990.
Reali was originally convicted to a life sentence for first degree murder, plus 24 years for conspiracy. Now she could get out of prison this year. Her sentence was commuted, making her eligible for parole in June.
"It was perhaps one of the most high profile cases in the history of Colorado," says Attorney General John Suthers.
Reali had been having an affair with Dianne hood's husband -- Brian Hood -- who Reali later confessed put her up to the murder. Reali testified against Hood to avoid the death penalty.
Brian Hood was acquitted of murder, but convicted of criminal solicitation and conspiracy; getting a lesser sentence. The Governor's office says that's the reason behind the sentence change.
"This was a heinous crime, and the responsibility for this crime rests equally with Mr. Hood and Ms. Reali. However, their convictions and sentences were not equal or balanced. The Governor's action today brings balance," said Evan Dreyer, communications director for the Governor in a written statement to News First 5.
Attorney General John Suthers was the El Paso County District Attorney at the time, and prosecuted the case. He says he's not enthusiastic about the decision, but supports it.
"I believe she will be paroled in the next year or two," says Suthers.
News First 5 spoke to a juror who served on Reali's trial back in 1992 -- on the condition of anonymity -- who had this to say:
"We were a fair jury (some of whom have paid a personal price), with a fair judge, in a fair system that resulted in a fair sentence. Which part of this does Governor Ritter believe is unfair and deserving of commutation? In my mind the unfairness is with the young mother who lost her life, and with the five children and families that have suffered."
Suthers disagrees that this takes away from the juror's decision in Reali's trial; commutation is a part of Colorado's legal process, if the Governor grants it.
"I don't see it as undermining the system, I see it as part of the system," Suthers explains.
Suthers adds that June 25th -- the day Reali is now eligible for parole -- is the same day that Brian Hood will reach his mandatory release from prison.