Lawmakers fight to keep a Central Valley woman in prison for life

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Susan Russo was recently granted parole back in January. We first spoke with Jaymee Guarino and Devin Russo nearly a year ago. At that time, the two sisters were fighting to keep their mother, Susan Russo, in prison.

The 63-year-old-woman was convicted of murdering her husband, David Russo, a U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer, back in 1994. Authorities say she did it while her two and twelve-year-old daughters were sleeping.

Now several months later, both women are back at square one, after a two-member panel of the Board of Parole Hearings granted parole to their mom in January.

They say Susan claimed their dad abused her, which is why she committed the brutal crime.

"The prisons investigative team couldn't find her claims to be true and the parole basically said it had no weight," Guarino said.

Because of that local lawmakers are stepping in and Friday, Senator Andy Vidak wrote a letter, urging Governor Jerry Brown to not release convicted murderer Susan Russo.

It was cosigned by Assemblymember Jim Patterson and seven others.

The Fresno County District Attorney's Office is also speaking out, in a statement Lisa Smittcamp said in part, "The decision of the BPH panel is not final" adding they "will continue fighting to keep inmate Susan Lee Russo in prison."

It is a place Devin says their mom should stay to keep the community safe.

"If she could kill somebody that she loved supposedly she could kill anybody, especially me and my sister for going against her in her parole hearing," Devin said. "Nothing matters as long as she gets her way."

When Governor Brown first commuted Russo's sentence, he stated that she had transformed her life for the better while in prison.

If Russo is released, which could potentially be this month, her daughters say she will not be allowed in Fresno County or within 100 yards of them.
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