Briefs Terms of Endearment

Republican Governor John Ashcroft of Missouri has commuted the life sentences of two women, Helen Martin and Becca Hughes, both convicted of murdering abusive husbands. Ashcroft said he commuted the sentences because the women were convicted before a 1987 law allowing the "battered-spouse syndrome" as a defense. They are now eligible for parole, but probably neither will be released for over a year. Critics say Ashcroft should release the women now.

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