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Tyra Patterson Granted Parole; Could Be Released By Christmas

Tyra Patterson in an undated family photo.
Just For Tyra Patterson Facebook page

An Ohio parole board has granted parole to a Dayton woman convicted in a 1994 murder case. Tyra Patterson could be released on or around Christmas Eve, the Dayton Daily News reports.

Calls seeking comment from Patterson’s attorney were not immediately returned. 

 
An initial parole hearing was originally scheduled for next year. Supporters successfully petitioned the state for an earlier hearing, which happened in July, on her eligibility for release.

In 1995, Patterson was sentenced to life in prison in the murder of 15-year-old Michelle

Lai.

Patterson was not the shooter in the case. But her confession to robbery opened the door to a murder charge. She has maintained her confession was coerced.

Under Ohio law, accomplices to murder can receive the same punishment as those convicted in a killing.

 
Patterson was featured in a series WYSO aired in 2014 called Women’s Voices From Dayton Correctional Institution.

 

In the story, we learn Patterson was illiterate when she entered prison at 19, and a school dropout at age 11. While at DCI, she taught herself to read and write, took classes offered through the prison program and set goals for her future.

 

One of those goals involved a stray cat that Patterson spent about two years developing a relationship with.  She describes the cat as untrusting and “left in the cold by herself and no one feeds her so she has to fend for herself. So she’s a survivor on her own.”

 

The story draws a parallel between prisoner and the pet she befriended.

 

“I’m in love with this cat,” said Patterson. “I tell her my secrets. You know in prison you don’t have anyone to trust and you can’t talk to anyone...With my cat Ms. Fancy, I tell her anything in the world, and you better know it goes nowhere. I love her. She means the world to me.”

 

Patterson also said that her “ultimate goal is to go home, and have the animal shelter come back inside this prison and capture her and give her her shots, and put her inside my home...and leave the door open so she can come and go, and she don’t feel captured.”