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Kasich grants clemency to Cleveland woman who killed abusive ex-boyfriend

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Gov. John Kasich has commuted the prison sentence of a Cleveland woman convicted in 2005 of murdering her ex-boyfriend who she said abused her for years.

Thomia Hunter’s lawyer, Tiffanny Smith, on Wednesday morning received a copy of Kasich’s letter that officially severed the remainder of Hunter’s sentence after 15 years in prison.

The letter, dated Monday, sets Hunter’s release date as July 15, as long as she completes a re-integration program run by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Smith, a lawyer with the Cincinnati-based Ohio Justice and Policy Center, said Hunter was very grateful for Kasich’s decision.

The Ohio Parole Board in June recommended that Kasich commute Hunter’s sentence after it found that evidence of battered woman’s syndrome was not presented at her trial, and that evidence supported her claims that her boyfriend, Andrew Harris, had choked her, beat her and attacked her with a knife during the 2:30 a.m. struggle inside her Woodland Avenue apartment.

Hunter stabbed Harris in the leg during the attack, severing his femoral artery.

Hunter was sentenced to life in prison with her first shot at parole after 15 years after a jury convicted her of murder and felonious assault. Hunter testified at trial that Harris, whom she had broken up with a few months earlier, attacked after he accused her of cheating on him. She said he beat her, choked her, poured hot sauce in her eyes and cut her with a knife before she stabbed him.

Harris suffered 22 knife wounds that the parole board said were applied with minimal force. The board also found that Hunter proved she suffered prior domestic abuse at Harris’s hands, and that she genuinely feared for her life and had no way to escape his attack in the minutes before she stabbed him.

She was scheduled for her first parole hearing in May.

Smith said Hunter is one of several women across the state who are serving prison sentences for crimes they committed in the face of domestic violence.

“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 Wednesday.

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