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Michigan woman ready to be released after 30+ years in prison

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan woman who was granted clemency after serving more than 30 years of a life sentence is preparing for life outside prison.

Melissa Chapman was among 26 prisoners who were granted commutations by outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder in December, The Detroit Free Press reported. Snyder also pardoned 35 others.

Chapman was awarded clemency shortly after a newspaper published a story about five women who were sentenced to life in prison without parole for their role in slayings while they were facing domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Chapman was 18 in 1987 when she was arrested and charged with murder in the death of Michael Keith Gaines. According to police, Chapman’s boyfriend, Robert Goodyear, shot Gaines because of jealousy. Chapman testified that Goodyear was abusive and threatened to kill her, so she helped hide the body and hid from authorities with him.

They were each convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

While in prison, Chapman participated in therapy, substance abuse programs and a domestic violence group.

“I thank God every day that I wake up and have an opportunity to do better,” Chapman said. “Today, I am such a different woman.”

Chapman will be released from Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti on March 26, according to Holly Kramer, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Corrections. Chapman will be under parole supervision for four years, Kramer said.

“I can’t wait to go out and look at the stars in the sky, just lay out on the ground and watch and see how beautiful they are,” Chapman said. “Here, I can’t go out and watch a sunrise. … I’ll never take it for granted again. … To be able to appreciate the littlest things are so monumental to me.”

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