IMAGE: Shirley Lute
Missouri Department of Corrections via AP file
Shirley Lute, now 76, is seen in this undated corrections department photo.
updated 5/4/2007 2:51:36 PM ET 2007-05-04T18:51:36

A 76-year-old woman left prison Friday after living 25 years behind bars for helping kill her husband, who she said had been abusing her.

Shirley Lute was released to shouts of support and cries of "We love you, Ms. Lute!" from inmates at the Chillicothe Correctional Center, said Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Hauswirth.

Lute was initially sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for at least 50 years. She was convicted of aiding her son in killing her husband, Melvin, whom she claims physically tortured and mentally tormented her.

In 2004, then-Gov. Bob Holden commuted her sentence to make her immediately eligible for parole, but the state Board of Probation and Parole refused to release her. Then, earlier this year, the state Supreme Court overturned the board and ordered her released.

The board on Monday granted parole to Lute and another woman who also said she was abused by the husband she killed.

Lute will remain on parole for the rest of her life. Hauswirth said he could not discuss Lute's parole conditions because they are confidential. All parolees must abide by some general requirements, such as not using drugs or possessing weapons.

Her lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Hauswirth said the other woman granted parole, Lynda Branch, will likely be released next week.

Branch, 54, was convicted of shooting her husband in 1986. She says she grabbed the gun after he threatened to shoot her and her daughter.

Both women's cases were handled by the Missouri Battered Women's Clemency Coalition, which includes professors and students at the state's four law schools.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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