Gov. Brown commutes sentence of woman involved in 1993 Bakersfield murder

Posted at 4:47 PM, Aug 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-18 19:47:26-04

Governor Jerry Brown commuted a woman that was involved in a 1993 Bakersfield murder on Friday.

Mary Elizabeth Stroder and her boyfriend, Charles Rountree, kidnapped and robbed Diana Contreas, who was shopping at Valley Plaza Mall. 

Rountree shot and killed Contreas, and both were convicted in 1995 by the Kern County Superior Court for first degree murder. 

Rountree told detectives that Stroder had no involvement in the murder, according to the governor's office. But Stroder was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the crime.

Gov. Brown commuted Stroder's sentence based on her a psychological evaluation which determined she faced a lifetime of neglect, devaluation and abuse, according to the governor's office. Because of this abuse, she was unable to stop Rountree from killing Contreas, the governor's office said.

Stroder changed her life when she went to prison 22 years ago and became involved in several self-help programs, according to the governor's office. Nearly 7,000 people also signed a petition advocating for her release from prison.

Stroder's sentence was changed to 25 years to life, making her eligible for parole.