Arkansas governor commutes life sentence of woman, 87, convicted of murder in 1982

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday commuted the sentence of an 87-year-old woman who was serving a life sentence after murdering her boyfriend in 1982.

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Annie Varnell Ross was convicted in February 1983 of first-degree murder in the death of 52-year-old Sam Scott, KTHV reported. Ross killed Scott after a fight at her Camden home on Feb. 20, 1982.

Ross was sentenced to life in prison.

In 2008, Ross stated in a clemency application that she killed an “abusive man” while defending herself, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. She made similar self-defense claims during her trial, the newspaper reported.

Hutchinson ordered that Ross’ life sentence be reduced and that she become parole-eligible immediately, KTHV reported. There were no law enforcement objections to the application, Hutchinson said in a news release.

Ross is being held at the McPherson Unit in Newport, according to the Magnolia Reporter.

The Arkansas Board of Parole has previously recommended a commuted sentence for Ross in 2008, 2011 and 2013, but the request was rejected each time by then-Gov. Mike Beebe.

The governor makes the final decision in clemency cases in Arkansas. Hutchinson could have denied the request, sentenced Ross to a set amount of years, or made her eligible for parole. Hutchinson chose the third option this time.

There will be a 30-day waiting period for officials to receive any public comments before the final action is taken, KTHV reported.

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