Posted: May 26, 2011 8:48 PM by Nicole Vandeputte, Sharon Knight
Updated: May 27, 2011 4:45 AM
One of the most notorious killers in Colorado Springs history could be out of jail in a couple weeks. Jennifer Reali is up for parole. Her sentence was commuted by former Governor Bill Ritter right before he left office. As she prepares for possible release, a woman who says she was Reali's lover in prison is speaking out from prison.
Valerie Medina meets with us from the La Vista Correctional Facility. That's the medium security prison in Pueblo. She says, "I cared for her very much. I still do. There were some red flags. Things I had seen that scared me."
To understand why she might be afraid, you need to go back about 20 years. That's when Reali became one of the most infamous killers in Colorado Springs history. It began when the young mother had an affair with Brian Hood. In September of 1990, Reali, dressed in fatigues and shot Hood's wife Dianne as she left a Lupus support group. As Dianne begged for her life, Reali fired the fatal shot.
In later testimony, Reali claimed Hood brainwashed her using scripture. She said he made her believe the only way they could be together was if Dianne died.
Hood was sentenced to 37 years. Reali was sentenced to life. It was in this new life, in prison in Canon City, that she met Valerie Medina. Medina says, "There isn't a lot of people you connect with on a certain level, and we did. Both of us had a spiritual connection as well."
Medina's crime was an attempt at "Suicide by cop". In 2001 she was fired from the Larimer County Sheriff's Office. She says she wanted to die, so she loaded a gun, and led deputies on a chase. She says, "I pulled over and said a prayer. I knew if I shot in their direction it would elicit a response, and I would be shot at too."
She survived, so did the deputies. As a former deputy, Medina says she was a target in prison. She says Reali protected her, and confided in her about the murder of Dianne Hood. She says, "She's still pretty numb, because it was almost a dream to her."
She says their relationship turned romantic. "It was intense. It was all consuming. We lived in our own bubble", she says. You can feel that intensity in love letters sent from Reali to Medina. She calls Medina her wife, and the love of her life. For five years, they were together. Medina says, "There was a very urgent kind of obsessiveness with me. Where I went to. Who I spoke with."
Medina says that's why she ended the affair. She says Reali's love can be dangerous, and prison didn't change that. She says, "I think a relationship is something that could bring her back, absolutely, yea."
We tried to talk with Jennifer Reali, but she denied our request. She's up for parole on June 25. That's the same day Brian Hood is scheduled to be released.
Governor Ritter commuted her sentence because he said Hood and Reali shared equal blame in the murder. Her sentence was much longer than his, so Ritter said he made it "Balanced".
Attorney General John Suthers, who prosecuted Reali, agreed with Ritter. He says he doesn't believe she's a threat.
Medina says that begs another question, "Why not her?" She says her papers went before Ritter at the same time. She didn't kill anyone and she was denied. She says, "How is a woman who murdered a mother of 5, premeditated, going to get a commutation from the governor?"
Medina is up for parole in 3 years.