Published October 11. 2013 4:00AM
In a ruling that served the ideals of justice and compassion, the state Board of Pardons and Appeals granted clemency Wednesday to 66-year-old Bonnie Jean Foreshaw, 27 years after her conviction for murdering a pregnant woman.
She receives her freedom several years before her 2017 scheduled release. Her case had captured the attention of high profile advocates, among them best-selling local author Wally Lamb, who included Ms. Foreshaw's writings in his inmate-penned book, "Couldn't Keep It to Myself," and Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz. A former state Supreme Court justice, Ms. Katz was a public defender associated with Ms. Foreshaw's long-ago appeal.
These advocates felt justice was not served by the original murder conviction, which failed to reflect the totality of circumstances leading up to the fatal shooting. A repeat victim of domestic violence, Ms. Foreshaw's intended target that night was Hector Freeman, a man pursuing and harassing her. She turned and shot, but the bullet hit Joyce Amos, who Mr. Freeman had grabbed and pulled in front of him, according to trial testimony and evidence.
Given facts and circumstances, it would appear to have been a case of manslaughter. A jury ruled otherwise.
Testimony at the clemency hearing provided evidence that Ms. Foreshaw has been an exemplary prisoner. Yet it is doubtful she would be free today without the publicity generated by her prominent supporters. Such is the arbitrary nature of the criminal-justice system.
Ms. Amos' family members objected, their opposition to an early release understandable. However, considering the evidence that Ms. Foreshaw never intended to shoot the pregnant woman, the indications that Ms. Foreshaw will not be a threat to society, and the fact she already served a sentence exceeding a typical manslaughter penalty, the board got it right.