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For over 30 years, Carlene Borden, 65, and Vicky Williams, 55, have been incarcerated for the murders of their abusive husbands. Their sentences, life without the possibility of parole for fifty years, were handed down without any evidence of their abuse being presented at their trials. At the time they were arrested, there were few resources for women, domestic violence was poorly understood, and evidence of abuse was not presented at trial, according to the lawyers involved in the case. 

“Today is an extraordinary day for Carlene and Vicky,” said Armstrong Teasdale Attorney Amy Lorenz-Moser, who represents the two women. “We have worked tirelessly for over 10 years to reduce the harsh sentences of women like Vicky and Carlene, which were passed down so many years ago. We are thrilled that the board has finally granted parole to these two survivors of domestic violence.”

The women have remained incarcerated despite a Missouri law enacted in 2007 specifically intended to help the cases of Williams and Borden, said Lorenz-Moser. The law states that offenders who had murdered their spouses would be eligible for parole if they had served at least 15 years in prison, had no prior violent felony convictions, had a history of “substantial physical abuse or sexual domestic violence” not presented at trial, and were sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 50 years.

The bill was important because, until 1991, spousal rape wasn’t even recognized as a crime under Missouri law. Battered Spouse Syndrome was not a defense in Missouri until the 1980’s. Borden and Williams were convicted in the late 1970’s.

Although both women received two previous parole hearings after the law was passed, the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole denied them freedom. A July 2010 court order allowed the women a third parole hearing, and new parole determinations. Under the guidance of this new order, their parole was finally granted.

Williams is in prison in Chillicothe and Borden is in Vandalia. They are scheduled to be released on Oct. 15.

About Armstrong Teasdale LLP: Armstrong Teasdale LLP, with nearly 250 lawyers in offices across the U.S. and China, has a demonstrable track record of delivering sophisticated legal advice and exceptional service to a dynamic client base. Whether an issue is local or global, practice area specific or industry related, Armstrong Teasdale provides each client with an invaluable combination of legal resources and practical advice in nearly every area of law.


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