DENVER (CBS4) – A woman who confessed to killing her lover’s wife had her prison sentence commuted Friday by Gov. Bill Ritter.
Jennifer Reali was sentenced to life in prison in 1992. She says Brian Hood convinced her to murder his wife, saying it was the only way they could be together.
Ritter commuted her sentence because Hood, Reali’s co-defendant, was convicted of a lesser crime and sentenced to less time in prison. Ritter felt there was injustice in the case, as well as some imbalance.
“‘Sorry’ — I don’t like that word because it doesn’t fit the enormity of this tragedy,” Reali told CBS4’s Jodi Brooks in an exclusive interview.
For the first time in nearly 2 decades Reali can think about freedom.
“I was jumping up and down and acting like a 5-year-old and started crying,” she said when she heard the news.
She will be eligible for parole later this year, 19 years earlier than expected. Parole eligibility will come on the same day as Hood’s.
“If he’s no different a man than when we fell, then he’s still dangerous as far as I’m concerned,” she said. “But who am I? I’m in prison.”
Reali says she has changed.
“I’m not the woman I was 20 years ago.”
She says she wants to get out of prison and help other women, but she knows she will always be a convicted murderer.
“I was born in 1962 and I don’t know when I’m going to die and the dash in between those doesn’t just say convicted murderer. There’s a lot of other stuff that defines who I am.”
She’s just thankful Ritter is giving her a chance at freedom.
“I won’t let him down, I promise. I will be what I say I’m going to be and do well.”
She may be able to leave prison before she is even eligible for parole because she potentially has the option to go to a halfway house.