Mary Elizabeth (Liz) Stroder is a participant of A Living Chance and member of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners. She is currently launching a campaign to support her application to Governor Brown for a commutation of sentence.
Liz is a survivor of abuse and has spent 21 years in prison for a murder committed by her abusive boyfriend. Evidence of Liz’s prolonged abuse—in her relationship with her boyfriend and her childhood—was never mentioned during the guilt phase of Liz’s trial. Her attorney’s failed to present a defense for Liz and they never connected her presence during the crime to her inability to leave her boyfriend due to Battered Woman’s Syndrome. Without evidence of her abusive relationship in her trial, the jury had no context for Liz’s participation in the crime. Despite her limited culpability and clean record, Liz was sentenced to Life Without Parole in 1995.
After 15 years of incarceration, the investigator in Liz’s trial, Pat McGregor admitted that at the time of her trial she “did not have the requisite knowledge or background to understand how [Liz’s] experience as a battered woman affected her mental state and behavior on the days leading up to, and including the offense.” McGregor said “In light of what we know today about Battered Women Syndrome, I believe Ms. Stroder could have been convicted of a lesser offense.”
For nearly 21 years, Liz has committed to her rehabilitation and healing. She continues to make a positive impact on her community inside prison. She has worked as a Domestic Violence Peer Educator and Creative Conflict Resolution Facilitator, she founded an LWOP support group, and teaches exercise classes. She has been free of disciplinary infractions for 18 years and was deemed “no risk” to public safety during a recent psychological report.
Liz’s only avenue for potential release is through a commutation of her sentence from LWOP to a life sentence so she may go before the board of parole to be considered for release. Join us in urging Governor Brown to review Liz’s application and commute her sentence. Victims of intimate partner violence deserve a second chance.
Sign her petition for commutation here: https://goo.gl/ZEP8fX