Battered Justice: Domestic Violence Victim\'s Life After Prison

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LAKE ST. LOUIS - Vicky Williams, 56, is adjusting to life as a free woman. In fall of 2010, she was released from prison after spending 32 years behind bars for hiring the murder of her husband, Gilbert Lee, in 1979. Williams said her husband sexually, physically, and mentally abused her during their seven-year-marriage.

Williams denies any involvement in her husband's murder. Two men shot him in his truck after he had completed a shift at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Williams was arrested days after.

"The only funeral I attended in my whole life, I was in shackles and handcuffs," said Williams. She was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Columbia lawyer Mary Beck and others fought to free Williams and 10 other domestic violence victims who had been convicted of killing their batterers. They authored a revised state statute, making parole possible for women whose trials began before 1990. Before that time, women could not enter evidence of domestic violence in their defense in court. All but one of the 11 women are now out of prison. The last woman has an out-date set for next year.

During her time in prison, Williams studied and received her GED certificate. Now that she is out of prison, she is working and hoping to attend Lindenwood to complete a degree in social work.

She says it is difficult to live with the reputation of being a murderer in the eyes of the law. However, she believes many people have been able to look past that.

"When I introduce myself to you, I let you know me," said Williams.

She continues to maintain a strong faith, despite other hardships in her life. Williams recently lost a teenage granddaughter, after a serious car accident. She told KOMU 8 she continues to value her freedom and refuses to give up hope for her future.