ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - Parole was denied – again – for "fatal attraction killer" Jennifer Reali Tuesday.
Reali's appearance was far from her previously-seen, rough-hewn prison garb: she wore makeup, a multi-colored suitcoat with drop earrings, her hair grown thick and curly – but short – after chemotherapy gave her what she termed "Linus hair."
Free from shackles, Reali sat with two friends at the Englewood Parole office, talking about the significance of the day.
"I got up at 4, 4:30 this morning to pray," she told her friends.
"The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say," responded one of them.
The mood was atypical for a hearing: frequent laughter, talk of breath mints, texts from friends, and how chemotherapy affects hunger.
But then, a statement of gravity: "It's not a little thing we're going in for. It's a big ugly thing," said Reali.
A big ugly thing.
Reali's attire that night in 1990 was much different. Dressed in camouflage and a ski mask, Jennifer Reali shot Diane Hood as Hood emerged from a lupus meeting in Colorado Springs. Reali was having an affair with Brian Hood, Diane's husband, and the two lovers decided the complicated triangle could only be solved one way: by killing Diane. Jennifer would be the one to stage it like a robbery, and ultimately, pull the trigger – twice. She also stole Diane's purse before running away.
The man who investigated and helped solve her crime has little sympathy.
"This was premeditated, planned and carried out. That is the definition of first degree murder," said retired Colorado Springs Police Lieutenant Joe Kenda. "Along comes a group of people, talking about how we should forgive, and how we should forget. I'm not into forgiveness. And I'm not into forgetting, either."
Reali was convicted of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, and sentenced to life in prison.
It changed when Governor Bill Ritter commuted her sentence in 2011, giving her eligibility for parole.
The last six months have proven positive for Reali. She moved out of a halfway house to her own apartment in the Denver area, and treatments for pancreatic cancer – including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy – have proven successful. She is now cancer-free, a rarity, given the best chance at surviving pancreatic cancer is 14%, according to the American Cancer Society.
Tuesday could have been the capstone to the last six months.
The pitch? She could be more productive on parole.
"I am responsible for my crime," said Reali. "I've always felt my sentence was appropriate. I will always be serving time for killing her. But, I would have the ability to give back better on parole than ISP [Intensive Supervised Parole]. I have an obligation to help others so they will not go down the path that I did. I could be more productive on parole."
The parole board attorney presiding her hearing rejected the plea, as the outcome in 2014.
Until her opportunity for parole in 2016, Reali will continue living free of shackles, in her own apartment, blogging and speaking for World Impact, a ministry dedicated to helping offenders and their children.