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South Dakota woman who murdered daughter is granted parole

The Pierre Community Work Center, or women's minimum security unit, at the women's prison in Pierre.
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The Pierre Community Work Center, or women's minimum security unit, at the women's prison in Pierre.

Debra Jenner was sentenced to spend the rest of her life behind bars after murdering her 3-year-old daughter in 1987.

But former Gov. Bill Janklow commuted the sentence to 100 years in prison. The 2003 decision made her eligible for parole.

Jenner began applying for release but the Board of Pardons and Paroles kept denying it, citing her past refusal to accept responsibly for the killing.

That changed on Sept. 15 when the board voted 6-3 to grant her parole pending a psych evaluation. The board said Jenner can only be around children with approval from her parole agent.

The hearing was held without it being posted on the parole agenda, KELO reported.

Janklow said he granted the commutation since Jenner finally admitted to killing her daughter.

Jenner, now 64, stabbed Abby Lynn Jenner 70 times with a knife and toy airplane. Abby was sleeping on her stomach but woke up and fought back.

Jenner's lawyer says her client has served 34 years behind bars as a model prisoner who helps other inmates.

She says Jenner wants to take care of her aging parents, and past media reports say Jenner's son has forgiven his mother.

Jenner has not yet been released. She remains imprisoned at the minimum security unit at the women's prison in Pierre, according to the Department of Correction's website.