Debra Jenner is up for a hearing in July on whether she should be paroled from the state women’s prison in Pierre after serving 29 years for murdering her 3-year-old daughter.
She told parole board members several years ago that she could live with her son’s in-laws in Pierre if she were released.
In April 1987, Jenner murdered her daughter Abby Lynn Jenner, 3, in their Huron home, stabbing her more than 70 times with a toy metal airplane and a kitchen knife. Abby’s lifeless body was found with her hands showing that she tried to defend herself and grasping long, blonde hairs that likely were from her mother’s head,.
Jenner, who is 60, has been denied parole more than a dozen times, and other times has waived her right to a parole hearing, according to an employee of the state parole board, which meets July 10-13 to hear parole requests.
She has the right to a parole hearing every eight months.
Convicted by a jury in 1988, Jenner was sentenced to life in prison and appealed her conviction several times, claiming someone else killed Abby. She has been in the state women’s prison since, including in the new one opened in 1997 in Pierre.
In January 2003, Gov. Bill Janklow cut her sentence from life to 100 years in return for Jenner finally admitting to murdering her daughter.
That made her eligible for parole and her first hearing was in February 2003.
According to The Associated Press, members of the parole board told Jenner that her years of lying about the murder and blaming others and spinning tales about it made her a poor candidate for parole.
“Am I sorry? Yes, every day,” Jenner told the parole board in October 2003. “I wish it could have been me.”
Her prison term ends on March 25, 2088, according to the state prison information; her time for early release based on “good time,” would be Sept. 24, 2039, based on earning all the possible good time.
At a parole hearing in April 2009, Jenner said that she had a support system and would be successful outside prison.
“I know that if you would parole me, I will make it,” she said, according to the AP.
Larry Long, state attorney general at the time, told the board that Jenner was unlike most prison inmates who got in trouble because of alcohol or drugs..
“Whatever is wrong with Deb Jenner cannot be cured with her quitting drinking, with her getting off drugs,” Long said. “Whatever is wrong with Deb Jenner is fundamental. It is deep-seated and it is of such character, I have difficulty describing it.”
Her son, Stuart Jenner, accompanied his mother to the 2009 parole hearing, with her parents and a priest.
Stuart was 4 when his mother killed his sister, Abby.
He attended Riggs High School in Pierre, and has said his mother’s Christian faith helped him in life and influenced him to study to be a minister for a time. He has said he forgave her a long time ago and believes she should be released.
Her attorney said she’s been a model prisoner, helping other inmates study for their high school degrees.
In September 2014, Jenner, through her attorney, asked a judge to bar the photos taken of Abby’s dead body at the crime scene and at the autopsy from being shown to parole board members. The gruesome photos deny Jenner her constitutional rights to a fair and impartial hearing, her lawyer argued.
Jenner could waive her right to the parole hearing, up until the day before it. The board then would be required to schedule another one for her within eight months.