She got life in prison for killing her abuser. Coronavirus was her death sentence.
MICHIGAN — Susan Farrell was 44 when she was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole after she killed the man she say abused her for years. But it was coronavirus that was the death sentence for her.
The 74 year old was unresponsive in her cell after her coronavirus test came back positive. She’s the first woman prisoner to die from COVID-19 in Michigan.
Farrell was convicted on Feb. 6, 1987 for delivering a fatal blow to her abusive husband’s skull while he slept in bed. She maintained her innocence throughout her imprisonment and later implicated her son, Robert Baker, who was 23-years-old at the time. He served five years in prison and she had no chance for parole.
The Detroit Free Press interviewed her before her death.
“He would punch me, grab me, slap me on my face,” she told the Freep. “If I said no to something, it would get him a little bit angry. I tried to keep myself from being confrontational.”
Farrell’s abuse was not just physical. She said the late Terry Farrell also sexually terrorized her.
“He would never let me say no [to sex]. “He’d say, ‘Too bad.’ ” There are also reports of Farrell claiming her late husband often used objects to violate her.
Farrell claimed that her son killed his stepfather after an argument over money. He threatened to tell police he killed Terry Farrell at his mother’s direction.
Baker was acquitted of murder but was found guilty as an accessory. In a separate case, he was convicted of statuatory rape, serving five years for his crimes altogether.
Juries believed him, and his five-foot-one mother was sentenced to life in prison.
Now, over 30 years later, she is the first female prisoner to die from coronavirus complications in the state.
Scott Hetchinger is a New York public defender who fights against long sentences and for public health solutions. He brought Susan’s story national attention when a Twitter thread about her case received over 20 thousand likes and another 12 thousand retweets. He’s asking Americans to sign a petition to Gov. Whitmer to release elderly and geriatric inmates during the COVID-19 outbreak.
As of Wednesday, The Michigan Department of Corrections reports 2,145 coronavirus infections throughout Michigan jails and prisons. Another 56 inmates have died from COVID-19.
The ‘Gander reported on the near impossibility of social distancing in Michigan jails in March. Since then, elderly and immuno-compromised inmates have continued to be infected with the virus. Organizations like ACLU Michigan are lobbying for this population to be released from prison during the viral outbreak to potentially save their lives. No movement has been made on the issue, to date.