Schwarzenegger gives woman new chance at life

January 3, 2011 8:03:21 PM PST
One of the last things former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did in office was decide to give a Southern California woman a conditional pardon. Rose Parker was convicted of killing her abusive ex-boyfriend, and had been sentenced to 27 years to life in prison. Today, she feels like she's starting life all over again.

"I feel so blessed to go into the new year with a miracle," Parker said.

Parker is still in shock after being granted a pardon. She has been fighting to clear her name for over 10 years. She was serving a life sentence for killing her abusive ex-boyfriend, Art Boga. He came to her house with a gun and she fought back because he threatened her and her children. She served 15 years at the California Institution for Women in Frontera before former Gov. Gray Davis allowed her to be released on parole in Dec. 2000.

In Sept. 2010 Parker traveled from San Bernardino to Sacramento to file for executive clemency. She had not heard anything until this New Year's weekend.

Parker suffered from battered women's syndrome at the time of the deadly fight with Boga, but it was not admissible as evidence in court.

The governor acknowledged a key statement from the sentencing judge, who said he always believed she "should have been acquitted, or, at most, found guilty of voluntary manslaughter."

Parker missed most of her children's lives while she was in prison. They were raised by her brother.

Parker has been trying to make up for lost time. She has become a minister and founded a support group called Saving Our Women. She is married to the Rev. Mike Sterling and they serve the poor in San Bernardino. She also volunteers as a counselor for battered women.

The governor's pardon is conditional; Parker must remain free from criminal conduct for five years or the pardon will be void.

But, these are the words she has been waiting to hear, "Rose Ann Parker paid her debt to society and earned a pardon."