It was thirty years ago that Roberta Borden, and her lover, Donald Wayne Pilkerton, crept up to the Borden family home. Once there, they shot Delbert Borden through a window as he sat in his La-Z-Boy watching television; that shot, went directly through his heart.
Roberta Borden was sentenced to 50 years in prison for her husbands death. But, that's all relative now due to a new state law.
Under a new statute enacted by Governor Matt Blunt two years ago, Roberta may be a free woman very soon. The statute was put into place by the governor to allow victims of domestic and sexual assault consideration for early release. There are qualifying conditions for consideration for parole for prisoners under the statute, they are:
1. The prisoner must have pleaded guilty or been found guilty of killing their spouse or domestic partner in a trial that began before 1991.
2. Must have no prior felony convictions. Must have no other legal recourse to being freed.
3. Must have "a history of being a victim of continual and substantial physical or sexual domestic violence that was not presented as an affirmative defense at trial or sentencing..."
Roberta Borden initially told investigators that three masked men entered her home robbing and shooting Delbert Borden, and rendering her unconscious.
At Donald Pilkerton's urging, Borden's son called 911 to report that three masked men had entered his parents home and that his parents were in dire need of help. Borden's son told dispatchers that the men had shot and robbed his father, knocked his mother out, and tied he and his sibling up with rope.
At Borden's preliminary hearing, her son testified that he had seen his father, a former Springfield police officer, hit his mother on several occasions.
In an affidavit, Roberta Borden, told authorities that the intruders kept calling her "Mrs. Cloninger," that led cops to theorize that the masked men thought they were targeting, Darence Cloninger, a disgraced financial consultant who had once lived nearby. That ruse lasted about a week until Borden was arrested when she couldn't explain her lack of injuries after being roughed up and knocked out.
Donald Pilkerton became the star witness for the state in exchange for a plea deal of no more than thirty years for his testimony against Borden. He was released from prison in 2000.
Borden and three other convicts will be the first to receive hearings under the law when they appear before a parole board today.
We should know in about six to eight weeks whether or not the parole board grants freedom to Roberta Borden; if they don't, it will be three more years before she becomes eligible for another parole hearing.
UPDATE: Parole for Roberta Carlene Borden was denied in early December 2008. The parole board wrote in their ruling that it's "not in the best interest of society."
In the two sentence ruling the board wrote, "The board has considered you for parole pursuant to criteria established by section 217.692 RSMo.," it reads. "It is their determination that release at this time is not in the best interest of society."
Attorneys for Borden are looking at several legal options to gain freedom for their client. One of them is to file a writ in state court, where they will ask a judge to compel the parole board to follow the law.
Another option is that they also could appeal to Governor elect Jay Nixon and ask him to reverse the board's decision; they could also ask the parole board to ask its members to look at the state statute again and reconsider their ruling.
The 63 yearold woman is not eligible to appear before the board again until 2011.