Murder victim's family makes case to keep killer in prison

Family fights to keep killer in jail 24 years after woman's death

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Raw emotions after nearly 24 years, remembering the night Mary Byron was killed.

“Donovan has killed Mary. Mary is dead. Come over,” Mary’s aunt, Jeanne Byron Flowers recalled.

Donovan Harris was sentenced to life in prison for raping and killing his girlfriend in December 1993 on her 21st birthday.

“I just like to remember her as she was knowing that that's how she is now,” Pat Byron, Mary’s mother said.

Since her death, Mary's parents became a vital voice in the creation of the VINE program -- a system that notifies people when suspects are released from jail.  But all these years later Mary's family and friends are still pleading for justice in her case.

“In a way, we've all had a life sentence. Because we're sentenced to a life without Mary,” Mary’s sister said,

For the first time in 12 years, Mary's murderer is up for parole.  Friends and family packed the room to appear in front of the parole board.  Pleading to keep Harris in prison.

“He has a chance and this is his second chance and hopefully he will be remanded back to prison and we have to do it again, we'll do it again,” Pat said.

One more hearing stands between Harris and freedom but Mary's family isn't giving up. Her aunt Jeanne telling the parole that she was the last person to talk to Mary.  She had seen her at the mall earlier that night.

“I want you to remember Mary's last words because I will never forget them, 'Don't worry Aunt Jeanne. They've got him.' So for heaven's sake, I beg you, please keep him,” Jeanne said.

Harris will make his case in front of a two-person parole board Tuesday morning. If they agree, we could get a decision about a shortened sentence on Tuesday. If they disagree, it moves to a full parole board next Monday.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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