Post 74 -Year-Old Woman Released After 32 Years in Prison

Mary Virginia Jones is now a free woman after serving 32 years for a murder committed by an abusive boyfriend.

In 1981, Jones was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murder, kidnapping and robbery in a fatal shooting. Her boyfriend at the time, Mose Willis, kidnapped the two men and ordered Jones at gunpoint to drive to a back alley in Los Angeles. Willis then shot the two men and Jones, who ran, was apprehended two days later.

With the help of law students at USC’s Post-Conviction Justice Project, Jones was able to challenge her case.  She stated that she would not have been convicted if the jury had heard expert testimony about the impact of intimate partner battering, formerly referred to as battered women’s syndrome.

A week before the crime, Willis shot at Jones’ daughter and threatened to kill them if they went to the police, according to officials with the USC project.

After a review of the case by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, Jone was offered to have her conviction set aside if she pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter.

“I did not willingly participate in this crime, but I believe entering a no contest plea is in my best interest,” Jones told the judge Monday.

After receiving credit for time served, Jones was released this morning.

“My mother never wavered on her belief of…her innocence and the fact that she never should have been in custody and the fact that she is being released today. She knew this day was coming,” said Jones’ daughter, Denitra Jones-Goodie.


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  • I’m far from being an expert at interpreting the law, but wouldn’t the fact that she was forced to drive the dudes into the alley at gunpoint a classic example of duress? Seems like Battered Women Syndrome would just be icing on the cake, for lack of a better phrase.

  • God bless her, this is sad. Half of her life is gone.

  • It’s so hard to hear about these cases, half of their lives gone for a crime they didn’t commit. Can you imagine? Not complaints about your day necessary.

  • It’s good she has her daughter to help her navigate through life living free on the outside, the world has changed so much and if she was alone with no support it could be quite daunting. I am thankful she has her daughter to come home to and she doesn’t have to go to one of those half way houses that they send inmates to when they are released.