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‘I want my daughter home’: Woman who killed alleged abuser granted new sentencing hearing in wake of legislation

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A judge has granted a new sentencing hearing to a woman arguing for relief from her 28-year prison sentence because she said she shot and killed her abuser out of fear and panic.

Marseilles Redmond is pursuing early release in a case that her attorney and domestic violence advocates say is emblematic of a criminal justice system that has historically not taken the complexities of abuse into account when ordering harsh sentences.

Redmond, 44, for years has sought sentencing relief under an Illinois law that allows domestic violence survivors to make a case to a judge for a lower sentence. But her quest for release from prison was thrown a new obstacle by the Illinois Supreme Court in November when it ruled in another case that the law doesn’t apply to defendants like Redmond who entered a guilty plea instead of having been convicted by a judge or jury.

Now, the door has cracked open again for Redmond. In May, the Illinois legislature amended the law to clarify that domestic violence survivors who pled guilty can seek resentencing. And though the change doesn’t take effect until next year, Cook County prosecutors withdrew their objection to a new sentencing hearing for Redmond.

Alexis Mansfield, a senior advisor with the Women’s Justice Institute who fought for the amendment in the wake of the court decision, said the legislation paves the way for more survivors to seek relief under the law.

“It’s time that their voices are heard,” she said.

During a Friday morning court call at the branch court in Skokie, Judge Paul Pavlus ordered a new sentencing hearing as family members teared up, later hugging outside the courtroom.

“I will grant petition at this time,” he told the court.

For Redmond’s family, who have long fought to bring her home, the decision offers a glimmer of hope, but underscores that there is still work ahead. They expect prosecutors to contest an early release, with both sides putting on witnesses during the sentencing hearing.

“I’m still positive,” said Marseilles’ mother Vadal Redmond, emotional after the hearing. “It’s looking better.”

Surrounded by family and supporters, Vadal Redmond, second from the right, mother of Marseilles Redmond, leaves the Skokie Courthouse, March 29, 2024 in Skokie. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)

Marseilles Redmond’s case goes back to July of 2001 when she shot and killed the father of her infant at an Evanston gas station. Redmond has argued that she killed Narsell Love in in fearful moment after suffering abuse, culminating in him bumping his car over and over into the back of her bumper while her 1-year-old was strapped in the back.

Cook County prosecutors, though, have presented a different story. Assistant State’s Attorney Paul Hooper has argued Redmond saw Love with a “new flame” and shot him multiple times, alleging that she approached him, pointed the gun at his head and “executed” him.

The dueling interpretations of the fatal shooting will likely be aired during the sentencing hearing, which does not yet have a date. The parties will convene again in July for a status hearing.

The tragedy at the heart of the case is one that Vadal Redmond and her daughter feel deeply, she said.

“I couldn’t imagine losing a child, especially losing a child to violence,” Vadal Redmond said. “I’m trying to understand both sides.”

Ultimately, though, she noted that even if her daughter is denied early release, she will be released eventually.

“I want my daughter home,” she said. “I miss her.”

After Love was killed and Redmond went to prison, their young child went to live with Vadal Redmond. Now grown, Shea Redmond, 23, has attended court hearings with his grandmother.

The tragic case has been particularly emotionally complicated for him, he has said, losing his father at the hands of his mother and later learning about the allegations of abuse.

He’s said he’s been able to build a relationship with his mother while in prison, and has kept every letter she’s written to him. She started writing to him before he could even read, the early letters written with large, block letters more comprehensible to a child. As he grew older, the letters that arrived were longer and more intimate, he said.

Shea Redmond collected them for his mother’s attorney to use at her sentencing hearing in the hopes that they offer a window into his mother as a person.

“I do cherish them,” he said.

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