Judges say killer with multiple sclerosis should be released from prison

Doctors say Amalia Mirasola, who killed her husband, needs 24-hour care

By: - May 3, 2022 7:10 am

Prior to the Compassionate Release Act, prisoners convicted of murder were not eligible for medical parole. (Canva image)

An appellate panel has ruled a Morris County woman with multiple sclerosis who was convicted of killing her husband 12 years ago should be released from prison under a new law that expanded who can seek medical parole.

The three judges Monday reversed a lower court’s decision that denied a petition for release by Amalia Mirasola, who has been confined to the infirmary at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility since she was sentenced in 2013.

Mirasola, 56, who had been sentenced to 40 years in prison after shooting and killing her husband in 2010, sought release under the Compassionate Release Act, which was adopted in 2021. Prosecutors argued she should remain jailed because she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis before the killing.

But in Monday’s ruling, judges said the Compassionate Release Act is clearly intended as an exercise in compassion for terminally ill and permanently disabled prisoners who “are physically incapable of committing a crime if released and who may be released on conditions such that they will not pose a threat to public safety.”

Prior to the Compassionate Release Act, people convicted of murder were not eligible for medical parole. The new law allows courts to consider parole — regardless of the crime a person is convicted of — if the person is suffering from permanent physical incapacitation.

Mirasola, who was using a wheelchair when she shot and killed her husband in their Butler home, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005. 

In a December 2020 petition for her release, two doctors said she “is bedridden”  and requires 24-hour care because she is “not able to do anything for herself.” She has trouble eating and going to the bathroom, and needs to be turned frequently to avoid bedsores, the doctors said. 

Another doctor recommended Mirasola’s release after finding her condition will “be fatal in the near future.” 

Mirasola’s three children opposed her petition at a May 2021 hearing. Mirasola attended that hearing strapped to a gurney.

The trial court determined Mirasola met the requirements for release, but denied the petition anyway. The judge in that decision said because the law says courts “may” grant compassionate release, judges are not required to free prisoners even if they meet all the requirements for release. The trial judge found the severity of Mirasola’s crime, length of her sentence, and opposition from the victim’s family outweighed her medical condition.

Mirasola appealed that decision, arguing the Compassionate Release Act does not vest courts with any discretion if they find — as the lower court judge did with Mirasola — that the prisoner has a qualifying permanent physical incapacity and does not pose a threat to public safety.

Monday’s decision does not make Mirasola’s release final for 10 days so prosecutors can ask the state Supreme Court to hear the case.

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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for NJ.com, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting.

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