Mary Virginia Jones is now a free woman after serving 32 years for a murder committed by an abusive boyfriend.
In 1981, Jones was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murder, kidnapping and robbery in a fatal shooting. Her boyfriend at the time, Mose Willis, kidnapped the two men and ordered Jones at gunpoint to drive to a back alley in Los Angeles. Willis then shot the two men and Jones, who ran, was apprehended two days later.
With the help of law students at USC’s Post-Conviction Justice Project, Jones was able to challenge her case. She stated that she would not have been convicted if the jury had heard expert testimony about the impact of intimate partner battering, formerly referred to as battered women’s syndrome.
A week before the crime, Willis shot at Jones’ daughter and threatened to kill them if they went to the police, according to officials with the USC project.
After a review of the case by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, Jone was offered to have her conviction set aside if she pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter.
“I did not willingly participate in this crime, but I believe entering a no contest plea is in my best interest,” Jones told the judge Monday.
After receiving credit for time served, Jones was released this morning.
“My mother never wavered on her belief of…her innocence and the fact that she never should have been in custody and the fact that she is being released today. She knew this day was coming,” said Jones’ daughter, Denitra Jones-Goodie.