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Abuse as a child led her to kill parents, inmate says In the first legal case of its kind in Md., daughter asks to be freed after 18 years

June 13, 1993|By Sandy Banisky | Sandy Banisky,Staff Writer

The head of the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation, the agency investigating Glazier's clemency request, believes the criminal justice system must develop a new approach to cases that involve battered children.

"Nobody talked about child abuse and domestic violence 18 or 20 years ago, because it was behavior that was behind closed doors," says Nancy J. Nowak, director of the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation. "I think we need to say: What is our VTC responsibility to someone now in that situation, now that we are so much more aware and sensitized to this kind of violence.

"Much more balanced sentences have evolved," Ms. Nowak says. "I have talked to Linda one-on-one. I know her story is consistent. She feels strongly that she was not provided a fair trial.

"Someone does need to look at this case, I feel, under a microscope. I have to remain objective but I do believe Linda Glazier's case deserves close consideration," Ms. Nowak says.

At their first meeting, during a visit to women prisoners in Jessup in December 1990, Ms. Nowak was stunned to learn Glazier, smart and poised, was serving consecutive life sentences. "I remember driving down that road on a cold December night and thinking about the tragedy and what a contributing member of society Linda could have been and still might be," Ms. Nowak says now.

Once the investigation is complete, Ms. Nowak will make a recommendation to Paul J. Davis, head of the Maryland Parole Commission.

"We'll be asking: Is she a victim? Was the crime a result of that battering? When the crime was being prosecuted, was appropriate attention given to her during the legal process?" Mr. Davis says. The board, in turn, will make a recommendation to the governor.

In Jessup, Glazier is a model prisoner with no marks on her record, prison officials say. She says she is sure she is employable. She has been trained in professional sewing. She is a fine accountant, one of her lawyers says. She likes to work on computer data entry.

When a support group for women prisoners was formed, Glazier was elected an officer. She attends Sunday religious services.

And she has found advocates, the kind of supporters she looked for but never reached when she was a troubled girl. Through a contact in prison she found Annapolis attorney Frank Dunbaugh, who specializes in prison civil rights cases. He's been working on the case for no fee for eight years.

"All the various safeguards that there are supposed to be in the system didn't work," Mr. Dunbaugh says. "When she complained about the treatment she received from her parents, she was arrested" and sent to reform school. "She said no, she wasn't going to go back to the house with these people. You'd think they would have asked why."

In September 1991, after seeing Paul Mones on Oprah Winfrey's television program, Glazier enlisted him to work with Mr. Dunbaugh. Mr. Mones, as well, is working for free.

'Children are powerless'

He sees the Glazier case as typical of the court's attitudes toward children. "It used to be, back before the advent of our national consciousness about child abuse, we thought teen-agers who killed their parents were just bad seeds -- just as women who killed their husbands were just out for the money or were just bad women.

"We realize now that if women can be afforded the protection of battered-spouse syndrome, there's even more reason to afford that protection to children. Children are even more powerless."

The Rev. Phebe Coe, an Episcopal priest from Odenton, visits Glazier frequently. If Glazier is released, she will join Ms. Coe's parish.

The priest was in court in December when Judge Simpkins denied Glazier a reduced sentence. "I was so positive. I was already buying her new clothes. She got hopeful, and then she was blasted by that judge.

"This woman's never done anything wrong, except she brought that loaded cannon [Greenwell] into that house," Ms. Coe says.

Glazier was asking the judge to change her sentence to two concurrent life sentences -- instead of consecutive terms -- plus two years for robbery of her parents' home. That change would have made her eligible for an appeal for parole now, not several years from now.

'Where she belongs'

But Judge Simpkins said no. She was responsible for two deaths, he says.

"She's where she belongs. She killed her mother and her father."

And what of other killers, sentenced since then, who have more privileges and may even have been freed by now. "Maybe they shouldn't be on the streets either," the judge says.

There have been other disappointments. In 1991, when women's advocates organized a clemency bid for women convicted of killing their husbands or boyfriends, Glazier was at first included in the group. But because her case was slightly different -- she was abused not by a spouse but by a parent -- her name was not on the list of cases that went to the governor.

Angela Lee, organizer of the Unity Group, a women's support organization that met in the prison, says Glazier had hoped desperately to be granted clemency then. She is smart, a leader, Ms. Lee says. She deserves a chance.

At her trial, Glazier was described as a wild girl. In the courtroom, Mr. Sutley recalls, she looked "cold, composed."

But in the prison visitor's area, when she's asked what she thinks now that the governor is looking at her case, Glazier quickly and softly begins to cry.

"I don't think it's going to happen," she says. "I just don't think I'm ever getting out."

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