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Missoula killer gets chance at shorter sentence

Missoula killer gets chance at shorter sentence

Redcrow eligible for parole earlier

For Missoula murderess Lucy Marie Redcrow, the news from the state Sentence Review board is both good and bad.

The board, in a decision received in Missoula on Tuesday, increased Redcrow's sentence from 60 to 90 years, but suspended 40 years of the term. That trimmed 10 years from Redcrow's prison term, making her eligible for parole sooner.

However, if she is paroled and then violates conditions of her release, she faces a much longer maximum sentence.

"I think they wanted to give her a chance at parole, but make sure she'd be locked up for good if she fails," Deputy Missoula County Attorney Betty Wing said Wednesday.

Redcrow was convicted in 1988 of the Aug. 26, 1987, murder of Marie Ila Richie, who was stabbed to death in what was then the Sweet Rest Motel. Richie had angered Redcrow by stealing a jacket that belonged to Redcrow's friend, Kathy Glover. Glover and Redcrow beat Richie as the women walked west along the south shore of the Clark Fork River. Police responded, but a bloodied Richie refused help.

Glover returned to a bar where the group had been drinking, while Redcrow and Richie crossed the river at McCormick Park and went to a room at the Sweet Rest that Redcrow shared with her boyfriend, Paul Regudon.

Once there, Redcrow stabbed Richie repeatedly while Regudon watched television, testimony at Redcrow's trial showed. Regudon and Redcrow then carried Richie's body to the island behind the motel, where all three were found by a police a short time later.

Redcrow admitted stabbing Richie, but later claimed during a request for a new trial that she confessed because she suffered from "battered women's syndrome." She claimed Regudon, who was acquitted of accountability for deliberate homicide, had killed Richie.

Redcrow has appealed twice to the state Supreme Court, but her conviction has been affirmed each time, in 1990 and 1999.

Redcrow also escaped from the Montana Women's Prison in Billings in October 1994, but was captured in New Hampshire about three months later and eventually returned to Montana.

Wing said Redcrow's hearing before the Sentence Review Board was delayed until after her appeals were exhausted. In Montana, a prisoner can have the review board hear a request for a lighter sentence, but faces the possibility that the board might actually increase the sentence. There is no appeal from the board's decision.

After her trial, District Judge Doug Harkin sentenced Redcrow, who is now 32, to 50 years in prison for deliberate homicide and another 10 for use of a weapon. He also designated her a dangerous offender, meaning she would have to serve half her sentence, less good time, before being eligible for parole.

The new sentence - 80 years for homicide, 10 for using a weapon - includes 40 years suspended, which can be served on probation. That cut her prison term to 50 years and should make it possible for Redcrow to be paroled earlier. Wing said it's not yet clear when Redcrow might be considered for parole.

"The reasons for the amended sentence are that this was a particularly vicious offense, the needs of this defendant make it very clear that she is going to need lifelong help in order to rehabilitate; and the safety of the community requires her long-term supervision," the board wrote in its decision.

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