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A Closer Look
Battered women form support group behind bars

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Story:Reclaiming the Past

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      Greenberg’s hearing took place in a wood-paneled courtroom decorated with a grandfather clock and a portrait of George Washington.  Presiding was judge Richard Couzens, who could have come out central casting as the stone-faced, small-town jurist who could order an execution one day and the return of a stolen pickup truck the next. 

       As Greenberg sat in her jumpsuit, the prosecutor accused her of ginning up the abuse story.  Greenberg has “lied so many times we don’t know when, if ever, she has been truthful,” she said.  Now, “The only thing we have is what comes out of her mouth.”


As Greenberg sat in her jumpsuit, the prosecutor accused her of ginning up the abuse story.  Greenberg has “lied so many times we don’t know when, if ever, she has been truthful,” she said.  Now, “The only thing we have is what comes out of her mouth.”

        Kaser-Boyd explained why Greenberg should be given leeway.  “We needed her to explain that you can’t judge this case on the credibility of the defendant like you would in a robbery, where the guy comes in and says he didn’t do it,” Carden said.  Greenberg also testified, as did a gallery of grotesques from Greenberg’s and Turner’s past. Turner’s ex-con brothers tried to help the prosecution but ended up confirming that Greenberg was passed off to Turner like property.  Their ex-stepmother, Dorlis Turner, testified that Turner was known in Maud for collecting debts with a .357 magnum. 

        After an exhausting week, Couzens agreed that Greenberg’s “whole behavior [is] consistent with a woman who has suffered battery. . . Even the pathetic attempt at the mercury poisoning is consistent with an act of desperation.”  He also was struck by the contrast between her placid nature and the homicide. “The crime, particularly with the violence it was committed with, seems dramatically out of character and seems compelled by some external force.”

       If the abuse had been proven in 1987, Greenberg would have been convicted of manslaughter, Couzens ruled.  Since the maximum punishment for manslaughter is 11 years, and she had already served 18, he ruled that her prison days were over.   

       Greenberg took a plane that night to her parents’ house in North Carolina.  “When I first came home I slept in my parents’ room on their couch for days,” she said. “It was so scary.”  After an 18-year absence from society, she feels like Rip Van Winkle.  “The Internet, the shopping store, there is a whole aisle full of cereals.  Someone asks me what I want, what I like – I don’t know what I like.”  It’s also not easy explaining to others where she’s been for her entire adult life. “When I applied for jobs and people found out I’d been in prison, I’d see their expressions. They’d say you haven’t enough experience, but I would see it on their faces.” 

       She got a part-time job at a doggie day care place and is studying to be a groomer. “I don’t have to deal with people too much, and I love the animals. So it’s a great start.  I’m not complaining,” she said.  “That’s something just recently that I’ve noticed, that it’s ok, and I’m going to be safe.”

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