Image: Susan Marie Lefevre
Lenny Ignelzi  /  AP file
Susan Marie Lefevre, now known as Marie Walsh, being returned to her cell at the Las Colinas Detention Facility in Santee, Calif. Lefevre, who escaped from a Michigan prison in 1976 and has spent two decades married and raising three children, was arrested by federal authorities April 24.
updated 7/15/2008 7:28:51 PM ET 2008-07-15T23:28:51

A housewife caught at her upscale home near San Diego 32 years after escaping a Detroit-area prison asked a judge Tuesday to set aside her original sentence for selling heroin in hopes of winning back her freedom.

Susan LeFevre, 53, has been in a Michigan prison since May, where she has been serving out at least 5 1/2 years of her sentence. Under sentencing laws from the 1970s, LeFevre likely would have to serve at least that many years before being eligible for parole in 2013, Michigan Department of Corrections officials have said.

Her attorneys filed a motion in Saginaw County Circuit Court arguing a judge in 1975 gave her an illegal 10- to 20-year sentence for selling about 3 grams of heroin, her first offense.

Hoped for leniency
At the time, she agreed to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and violation of drug laws, hoping to be granted leniency.

Her attorneys asked Judge William Crane to resentence LeFevre but did not specify how long her new sentence should be.

While the motion did not specify length of sentence, LeFevre's attorney Barbara Klimaszewski said a first-time offender pleading guilty to selling a small amount of drugs likely would get probation.

It was unknown if prosecutors would challenge the request. A message seeking comment was left Tuesday with Saginaw County Prosecutor Michael Thomas.

LeFevre's attorneys said that at the time of her sentencing, when she was 19, the circuit court's policy was to give all defendants in heroin cases 10 to 20 years, regardless of their individual characteristics or criminal records. The policy later was ruled improper by the Michigan Supreme Court, according to Klimaszewski.

LeFevre said in court papers that she had no chance to review a pre-sentence report that she said falsely portrayed her as making $2,000 a week selling drugs and being acquainted with "higher-ups" in the drug world.

"If I had been given the opportunity to review the report before or at the time of my sentencing, I would have told the court that the report omitted important information about me and about my level of cooperation with the police and prosecutor," LeFevre said in an affidavit.

Never discussed appeal
She also said her trial attorney never discussed an appeal with her.

After her arrest in 1974, LeFevre said, she helped police in another city with an undercover operation.

LeFevre escaped the now-closed Detroit House of Corrections in 1976 — a year into her sentence — and traveled to California, where she married and had three children.

LeFevre, who went by Marie Walsh in California, was arrested in April outside her home in San Diego's Carmel Valley area. Authorities said her cover was blown by an anonymous caller who tipped authorities to her new name.

After LeFevre was caught, her attorney planned to ask Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm for clemency. But her new lawyers are first contesting her sentence.

"Susan LeFevre has proven over the last 32 years that she is a fully rehabilitated, productive member of society," Klimaszewski, one of her attorneys, said. "She is a devoted wife and the mother of three wonderful children. We are confident that the court will recognize the important legal issues raised in the motion, and will resentence her under the proper legal standard for a first offender with a small amount of drugs."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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