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Calif. mom who fled Mich. prison to be released

Thursday, January 29, 2009 , Posted by Linda at 10:41 AM

DETROIT – A California woman captured last year after escaping from a Michigan prison in 1976 and living on the lam as a suburban mother will be released from the original sentence that put her behind bars, a state parole board ruled Wednesday.

In this Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008 picture, Susan LeFevre, a California woman who In this Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008 picture, Susan LeFevre, a California woman who escaped from a Michigan

Susan LeFevre will be freed May 19, but her behavior in prison will be closely monitored until that date because of several misconducts, said Russ Marlan, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections.

"If there is significant misconduct, they'll revisit the case," Marlan said. The misconducts include disobeying orders from guards, getting into a verbal altercation with an inmate and keeping medication under a mattress, he said.

LeFevre's lawyer, Barbara Klimaszewski, said her client had been suffering from depression but added, "We have light at the end of the tunnel and that's a great thing."

LeFevre, 54, escaped from a Michigan prison in 1976 after serving about 14 months of a 10-year drug sentence in Saginaw County. LeFevre has said she never expected to get 10 years in prison when she agreed to plead guilty in 1974.

She made her way to California, got married and raised a family in the San Diego area.

Marlan said the parole board noted that she has committed no crimes since her escape.

"The chairman summed it up: They want prisoners to walk out of prison and to live an existence like she lived, not committing violations of the law and living a productive life," he said.

Saginaw County Prosecutor Mike Thomas said he was disappointed by the ruling because he wanted LeFevre to serve the same length in prison — at least 40 months — as her co-defendant in the drug case. If freed in May, she will have served more than a year short of that length.

"I don't agree with the decision of the parole board, but it's their authority," Thomas said.

LeFevre has said she escaped because she feared for her safety in prison. Since her capture, her lawyers had been fighting to get the 10-year drug sentence thrown out as too excessive for a first-time offender.

The board did not spend much time discussing the fairness of her sentence for a heroin sale, although members believed she has wrongly tried to minimize her role, Marlan said.

"They believed without question that she was a significant player in the drug trade," he said.

LeFevre has not been given extra prison time because of the escape. She pleaded guilty in September and was sentenced to two years of probation for that offense.

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