A woman serving time at a Corona prison facilty after being convicted of killing her boyfriend because she allegedly feared for her life, is making headlines this holiday season.
Family and supporters of Glenda Virgil, 65, who in 1988 killed the man who allegedly beat her, is asking for clemency from Gov. Jerry Brown.
Dixie May Dunn, 19, is leading a campaign to get her grandmother released from California Institution for Women in Corona. Dunn says her grandmother is in a wheelchair and was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer in September. Doctors told her she had three to four months to live, Dunn said.
The campaign posted on Change.org has been joined by more than 50,000 people across the country who are signing an online petition asking the governor to release Virgil from custody so she can spend her last days with her grandchildren, according to Dunn.
“My grandma … was the victim of physical, mental and emotional abuse by her boyfriend over a period of four years before getting the courage to leave the relationship. When her boyfriend learned of her plans to leave him, he beat her for several hours and threatened to kill ... her, himself and their dog with a gun,” Dunn said. “Believing that her life would end if she did not act, [my grandmother] shot and killed her abuser."
During incarceration Virgil has dedicated herself to helping victims of abuse and trauma, Dunn said.
“It was talking to my grandmother that gave me the courage to leave an abusive relationship two years ago,” Dunn explained.
No evidence of Virgil’s abuse was allowed to be admitted at her trial in San Diego County in which she was convicted of second-degree murder, Dunn said. Virgil was sentenced to 15 years to life, and was eligible for parole in 2000, but Dunn contends the parole board has never given her grandmother’s case serious attention.
In late September, attorneys with the USC Post-Conviction Project and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) submitted a formal request for parole to Governor Brown, according to Dunn and Virgil supporters. Additionally, Dunn plans to deliver the Change.org petition signatures in-person at Governor Brown’s office with Assemblywoman Ma and other supporters.
In 2012, Ma introduced AB 1593 and AB 593 -- the Sin By Silence bills -- spurred on by the story of Virgil and other victims of domestic violence.
AB 593 seeks to clarify Penal Code 1473.5 to include domestic violence victims who were denied the opportunity to provide expert testimony during their trials. AB 1593 seeks to provide domestic violence victims a chance to present their evidence during the parole process.
Inspired by Virgil’s story and other victims of domestic violence, documentary filmmaker Olivia Klaus produced “Sin by Silence.” The film premiered in 2009 and in 2011 had its television premiere on Investigation Discovery.