Jennifer Reali, 48, has once again been denied parole. The notorious “Fatal Attraction Killer” remains held under strict supervision at a halfway house in El Paso County, Colorado, for at least another year.
In September of 1990, Reali dressed herself in camouflage fatigues and a ski mask to attack and kill Dianne Hood, a 32-year-old mother of three. Her plan was to make it look like a robbery, but when she grabbed for Hood’s purse, the victim threw it at her. Reali fired once with a .45 revolver, wounding Hood. Then, as the woman lay on the ground begging for her life, she shot her again in the chest.
Reali and Hood’s husband Brian had been having an affair. And he supposedly had used biblical interpretations to convince her that God wanted his wife dead. At least that was her excuse when police, not buying the story that a panicked mugger had committed the killing, arrested Reali two days later. Under interrogation, she admitted her part in the plot.
Brian Hood quickly came to his own defense, denying any involvement and painting himself as the innocent victim of a “fatal attraction”. But that story got him nowhere, and he was convicted of second-degree murder in 1991 and sentenced to 37 years in prison. He briefly escaped in 1997 with another inmate but was quickly recaptured.
Reali, an Army officer’s wife, spent 22 years in prison before receiving the very controversial sentence commutation from Governor Bill Ritter that allows her to be considered each year for release. She wasn’t supposed to be eligible for parole for 40 years.
There is little if any sympathy in the community for showing any mercy toward Reali.
“This was premeditated, planned and carried out. That is the definition of first degree murder,” says retired Colorado Springs Police Lieutenant Joe Kenda, who worked on the case. “Along comes a group of people, talking about how we should forgive, and how we should forget. I’m not into forgiveness. And I’m not into forgetting, either.”
The supposedly contrite killer had this conversation in 2014 with the judge presiding over her parole hearing:
Reali: “In 1990, I got involved with someone who was not my husband. It was an unhealthy relationship, so of course it would be.”
Judge: “Do you think your sentence was appropriate?”
Judge: “If a life sentence was appropriate, then why should we let you out early?”
Reali: “That’s a really good question.”
Then, starting to cry, she announced, “I’ve been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which nobody was expecting.”
Health experts consider the condition to be virtually incurable.
To Kenda, the freedom granted by parole is a privilege the real victim – Diana Hood – will not and cannot ever experience.
“Who could I speak to, to arrange for Diana Lynn Hood an early release from her grave?” he asked.
And the victim’s brother, Texas attorney David Moore, called the Governor a “gutless coward,” for taking action without consulting with her relatives or asking their opinion.
“I think it is ludicrous when someone is murdered in cold blood that the governor takes it upon himself to commute the sentence of a cold-blooded murderer,” Moore said. “How would the governor feel if one of his family members was shot dead and the killer’s sentence was commuted?”
In the meantime, Reali has styled herself as a Christian songwriter, having released two albums she recorded while in prison. Sample lyrics:
Would you find me acceptable if you knew where I’d been?
Would you cringe in horror at the stories I could tell?
Would you judge and condemn me? Sentence me to hell?
Oh-oh, straight to hell….
If you knew my dark side would you sense the hands of Christ?
I broke every commandment, I’ve hidden special sins
Are you willing to hold me when I’m poison through and through?
Can you see past my number to see a child of God?