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Woman freed after serving less than year for killing

Updated:
MIAMI, Okla. (AP) _ A woman sentenced last year to 12 years in prison for killing her husband, the former Ottawa County sheriff, was released Wednesday after serving just 11 months.

District Judge James Goodpaster reduced the sentence for Patricia Harkins, saying she did not have a history of violence and that the stabbing of Jack Harkins was a ``one-time violent act.''

Patricia Harkins initially was charged with first-degree murder in the Dec. 11, 1999, stabbing. She pleaded no contest in December 2000 to a reduced charge of second-degree murder.

Goodpaster said Harkins, 60, had taken part in several rehabilitation programs and testified that she had no addictions.

The judge talked about the need for compassion and accountability in the judicial system.

``I have a lot of family and friends in Ottawa County, and I don't think my decision will make anyone mad,'' Goodpaster said.

He said Harkins would carry her felony conviction ``for the rest of her life.''

But Assistant District Attorney David Anderson said he had ``never disagreed with a decision any more than I do now,''

``There are people sitting in jail for 20 to 30 years on a 'nonviolent' offense, and rarely do they receive an early release,'' Anderson said.

Harkins testified that her husband in the last two years of their 40-year marriage had become abusive to her. She refused to answer the prosecutor's additional questions about the abuse allegations.

Harkins cried several times during the hearing and said she ``loved Jack very much and wished he was here.''

Anderson said there has never been any evidence of abuse.

Harkins' attorney, Ron Stockwell, declined to comment on the judge's decision, but said, ``It's not a victory; it's a tragic situation all the way around.''

Goodpaster ordered Harkins to serve 15 weekends in the Mayes County jail at a cost of $20 per day. He also ordered her to complete 500 hours of community service, attend a supervised six-month anger control counseling class and pay court costs.

She must abide by a 10 p.m. weekday curfew and a 11 p.m. weekend curfew for one year and return in one year for a review hearing.
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