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Florida Woman Gets Clemency for Murder of Husband

March 11, 1993 GMT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ A woman convicted of murdering her husband was ordered released from prison Wednesday in a clemency decision based on her claim she was a battered wife.

She was the first to gain clemency through a new Florida procedure that created special panels to review cases of possible battered woman syndrome.

Gov. Lawton Chiles and four of Florida’s six Cabinet members conditionally commuted the 15-year sentence of Kimberly Bliss Soubielle, 27, who was convicted of second-degree murder.

″This is a tremendous message nationally,″ said Candice Slaughter, founder of the Women in Prison Committee. ″Florida is thought to be on the vanguard of this issue and every state that’s working on clemency is looking to Florida.″

Ms. Soubielle, who has served five years of her sentence, will be placed on probation for 15 years. She was ordered to get therapy for herself and her 8- year-old daughter under terms of the clemency.

″I am in shock and I’m elated. The road to freedom has been a long one,″ Ms. Soubielle said after being released from the minimum-security Pine Hills Correctional Institution. ″We cannot forget the others who are still in jail who should not be. I’m glad to be free, but the work must go on.″

Several other states have granted clemency to spouse abuse victims who have killed their husbands or boyfriends. But in 1991, Chiles and the Cabinet established a policy to expedite such cases, creating the battered woman syndrome panels to review cases and make recommendations.