Twenty-seven years after Jennifer Reali gunned down his mother, Dianne Hood's oldest son says he's ready to "publicly forgive her in Christ's name."
Jarrod Hood, now 36 and a child and family counselor in Texas, said in an email Friday that he supports the parole board's decision to release Reali on Dec. 12. His mother, whom he described as a devout Christian, "taught me to be a good sport and to walk in the fruit of the Spirit...I will honor her legacy by continuing in the way of Christ. I believe this is what she would have wanted."
He said he also supports freedom in the future for his father, Brian Hood, who was having an affair with Reali and was convicted of second-degree murder in the plot. Brian remains at Sterling Correctional Facility, five years past his initial 22-year sentence, because of his escape in 1997. Records show he is eligible for parole in February.
"Grief can take many different forms, but as someone who has lived this and now is helping others as a professional counselor, I believe in the power of forgiveness," Jarrod Hood said.
His siblings did not wish to comment, he said.
Jarrod hopes his father and Reali - who earned the nickname "Fatal Attraction killer" - use what time they have left for good.
That's something Reali, a proclaimed born-again Christian, already has pledged many times in an effort to "give back to a society that I wounded so badly."
She works at Inside Out Ministries, helping connect other offenders to resources - which she says reduces recidivism - and is part of The Urban Ministry Institute in Denver. She plans to continue that work after her release, she told the parole board last month during her 35-minute hearing.
"That person is dead and gone, and I'm glad. She needed to go," Reali, 55, said of her former self during the hearing. "I can't prove to anybody what my thoughts are. I can only show people who I am by how I act."
She has not returned the Gazette's calls for additional comment.
In 1990, a 28-year-old Reali donned camouflage and a ski mask when she ambushed Dianne Hood as she left a lupus support meeting in Colorado Springs. Reali received a life sentence for first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, but Gov. Bill Ritter commuted her sentence in 2011, making her eligible for parole.
Reali sought release three times before being approved this year, based largely on a risk assessment that ranked her "very low" on the threat scale, meaning she is unlikely to harm society or re-offend, records showed. She also is undergoing chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, for which she was diagnosed in 2014.
Jarrod's aunt by marriage, Angela Moore, also doesn't oppose Reali's release. Moore said her 30 years as an attorney, some of which was spent as the assistant district attorney in San Antonio, taught her to believe in redemption and rehabilitation.
Reali was "a model prisoner," Moore said.
But she does criticize that Reali's narrative - that she was seduced and manipulated by Brian Hood - paints herself as the victim.
Reali testified during trial that Brian persuaded her to kill his wife because it was "God's plan." She repeated the sentiment last month during her hearing, when she described Brian as pushing her into the shooting and encouraging her to pull the trigger twice, because he told her Dianne "had to be dead."
"I felt really trapped," Reali said, adding she has since learned how to avoid people who would want to use her.
The parole board also said it denied Reali's request for release in 2015 in part because she "put emphasis on co-defendant (Brian Hood) more than herself."
"She wasn't a victim," Angela Moore said. Dianne was, Moore said, as were the children left without parents.
Jarrod Hood described his mother as "a beautiful and kind person" who "loved people deeply and loved to laugh," evidenced by two photos he shared of them together. He was 9 when she was killed.
Without her, Jarrod said, the family has "lived with grief upon grief."
Though he and his two siblings were raised by their grandparents, Brian's parents - Andy and Suzanne Hood, whom the kids affectionately call Grandy and Susu - they still missed out on having their mother. And Dianne missed out on being a mother, Jarrod said.
"I would have loved to have her at my wedding, my graduations, the birth of my children," Jarrod said. "Tragedies like these rock you to your core. I had no choice but to deal with the ramifications of other people's choices."
But that doesn't mean Reali needs to remain locked up, he said.
His aunt agreed.
"She lost her family, she lost her children, she lost most of the best years of her life," Angela Moore said. "I think she can do more good outside (of prison)."
It's not known whether her late husband, David Moore - Dianne's brother - would agree. In 2011, he wrote the parole board discouraging Reali's release because, "Reali should be given the same forever as my sister."
David died in a car crash five years ago, Angela Moore said.
Jarrod said he just wants Reali "to focus on making the world a better place after a horrific and totally preventable tragedy.
"I extend an olive branch to her," Jarrod said.
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