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Schwarzenegger won't block parole for terminally ill woman who killed abusive boyfriend

August 20, 2009 |  1:16 pm

Schwarz Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced today that he would not block parole for a terminally ill prison inmate who is serving a life sentence for murdering her abusive boyfriend in 1982.

The decision paves the way for the release of Deborah Peagler, 49, in the next few days, according to Joshua Safran, one of several attorneys who worked for years on the controversial case in the hopes of securing her freedom.

“Justice delayed is not necessarily justice denied,” Safran said after Schwarzenegger’s announcement. “I’m absolutely ecstatic.”

Peagler was accused of luring Oliver Wilson, 23, to a secluded park near Lawndale, where two men beat and strangled him with an electrical cord.

She pleaded guilty to murder in 1983 and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Her case won support from battered women’s advocates and others who said Peagler was the victim of prolonged and extreme abuse at the hands of Wilson, a pimp and drug dealer.

Peagler’s lawyers argued that Wilson forced her into prostitution, beat her with a bullwhip and, a few days before he was killed, took her to a motel and repeatedly raped her. Los Angeles County prosecutors disputed Peagler’s claims, saying she has given inconsistent accounts about the extent of the violence and whether she knew that the two men intended to kill Wilson.

Nevertheless, a state parole board decided last month that Peagler should be released. In a letter sent to Peagler today, Schwarzenegger said he would not review the board’s decision.

-- Jack Leonard

Photo: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today in Sacramento. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press