Mother who killed 4-month-old daughter in 1985 granted parole after 31 years in prison
75-year-old Marybeth Tinning has admitted to murdering her daughter but maintained that she did not kill any of the other eight children
State officials confirmed on July 15 that Marybeth Tinning, a convicted child killer, has been granted parole. The now 75-years-old woman appeared before a state parole board the previous week and she was granted release. Her appeals had been denied six times previously since her first appearance before the board in 2007. She had served 31 years in prison so far. The precise release date is not known but the state inmate website has listed that her possible release date is August 21. Tinning is currently being held at a medium-security Taconic Correctional Facility in Bedford Hills, Westchester County. The elderly convict will be under parole supervision for the rest of her life once she is released from prison.
Tinning had been sentenced for 20 years to life in prison in 1987 for her 1985 conviction in the death of her 4-year-old daughter Tami Lynne. The case made headlines because all nine of her children died at young ages from 1972 to 1985. Eight of these deaths happened under suspicious circumstances and one adopted child's death was also among the eight, reported the Daily Gazette.
She was then indicted in three of the deaths but prosecutors at that time only took Tami Lynne's case to court. Tinning has maintained that she did not kill any of the other children. Joseph Tinning, her husband, has been her support through her trial as well as her long period of incarceration. He kept visiting her throughout her three-decade prison sentence and even visited her in Westchester County at least once a month.
He told the paper on July 15 that his wife had been informed of the decision to release her sometime last week, "It's very emotional. She was very emotional telling me." Tinning appeared before the board on July 17. The husband said that he is "very glad that it will soon be all over with." The couple is still waiting for the final details of when exactly the release will take place but Joseph said that he thinks they will live in Duanesburg.
The state corrections officials have said that releasing inmates like Tinning normally takes between two to three months after the board grants parole. Officials said on July 15 that she is "scheduled for release pending the completion of her community preparation package, which includes an approved residence." Her previous appeals for parole had gained her many people who support her release but there are also many who still want her to remain in jail.
The then-state police investigator, William A Barnes, the man who was responsible for getting the confession from Tinning in the beginning, has supported her release even before her initial appeal to the parole board in 2007. He claimed that she was no longer a threat to society. Barnes went on to serve as Sheriff of the Schenectady County after the case in 1987. He passed away in June at the age of 80.
The then-District Attorney John Poersch, working for the Schenectady County District Attorney's Office, was the one who had prosecuted Tinning in the trial. Robert Carney, the current District Attorney, has been against releasing the elderly woman ever since she became eligible for consideration. When he was informed of the board's decision on July 15, he said that she has aged and things have changed a lot since she first appeared in court. He also said that he wasn't going to second-guess the Parole Board's decision. Carney also mentioned that he had never seen her acknowledge the crime she had committed.
At Tinnings' first parole hearing in 2007, she denied that she had anything to do with Tami Lynne's death. At her next appearance in court, however, she admitted to the crime and did it consistently for all her appearances since then. She still denies any involvement in the other suspicious deaths and said she would never harm the children. Carney said: "She admitted guilt, I guess, but it was without any insight."
Her defense attorney in the 1987 trial was a man named Paul Callahan. The attorney said on July 15 that he was glad she was getting parole. He continues to practice locally to this day and said of the board decision: "Her sentence was 20-to-life, which means, in the judge's opinion, the max [25-life] wasn't appropriate for her."
He also said that the hope of her release was brought up when the board, even though they denied her release the last time, told her to come back for another hearing in only 18 months time instead of the usual two year wait period.
Nobody knows what Tinning will do when she is released. At her fifth board appearance in 2013, she read out a letter to the members of the board asking them to "please allow me a chance to prove that I am not the same person that I was 27 years ago."
She wrote: "I ask you to see me as I am today, not as I was then, and to show you that I am a changed and loving person, that I am confronted with the result of my actions every day. I will carry the pain and regret for the rest of my life. I would be an asset, not a problem, to society." She also wrote that she would prove herself by working in the church and the community where my help is needed, such as volunteer at a food bank and homeless shelters."
Even though she will be under constant parole supervision, Callahan said that he expects her not to have any problems with that. According to him, Joseph Tinnings' home will also be acceptable to the parole board. He said: "There's going to be an adjustment period for her, and who knows how long that will be? But she'll wake up in the morning, walk around, and do what she wants to do."
Carney, on the other hand, has said that he would have been more at ease if she had just acknowledged what she did. He said: "I don't know if there can ever be true rehabilitation in the absence of acknowledgment of responsibility. But I hope that she lives out her days peacefully and poses no threat anyone."