Mitigating Circumstances

When the hellish life of a battered wife drives her to murder her husband, often she has only the mercy of the justice system to determine her fate. But in Florida, Kimberly Soubielle, 27, became the first beneficiary of a novel state procedure that allows a husband killer who claims battered-woman syndrome to argue successfully for clemency before a special review panel. The Governor and the cabinet commuted her sentence to five years served and put her on 15-years probation. The release was a victory for activist Candice Slaughter, who had pressed for the reform.

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