AUGUSTA – Gov. John Baldacci, in his first such act since taking office in 2003, has decided to commute the sentence of a Hancock woman who went to prison for 17 years in 1997 for fatally shooting her father.

Carol Graves, who was then 36, pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Graves told police she shot her 71-year-old father, Douglas Graves, on May 14, 1996, after he brandished a hunting knife in his mobile home on Route 1 in Ellsworth.

Baldacci’s office said Graves was severely physically, emotionally and sexually abused by her father from the age of 5 and at the time of the killing was suicidal, suffering from battered women’s syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Graves did not present that information during her trial, but instead accepted a plea bargain, according to Baldacci’s office.

Baldacci’s decision begins a process in which a warrant is drafted by the attorney general’s office for signature by the governor. Officials said a warrant can take some time to draft and a commutation is not final until the warrant is signed.

Graves pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the killing of her father in June 1997.

Considering anticipated good time sentence reductions, Graves was scheduled for release on Sept. 9, 2011, the commutation will reduce the sentence by 18 months, according to the governor’s office.

The governor’s office said that while in prison Graves has involved herself in many activities and educational programs, including participating in victim’s impact classes, a women’s domestic violence abuse group, a drug treatment program and a program for Native American women and has held several jobs in the industries program.

“Twelve years ago, Ms. Graves was involved in a violent act that ended in the death of her father. But the violence did not begin or end on that day in May,” Baldacci said in a statement.

“For more than 30 years, Ms. Graves had been severely abused. That’s not an excuse, but it does help to explain what happened that day.

“Our understanding of battered women’s syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder has advanced greatly since 1996. Ms. Graves has served a long sentence, and she has earned an opportunity to show she has turned her life around,” Baldacci said.

Officials said Graves will be moved to the Department of Corrections re-entry center for women and may serve a period of community confinement until the end of her sentence in early 2010.

Commutations are considered by the Governor’s Board on Executive Clemency, which recommended the commutation, Baldacci’s office said.

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