Washington’s Clemency and Pardons Board is recommending the governor grant a shorter sentence for one of the teens involved in a brutal murder-for-hire plot in Everett.
Marriam Oliver could be released after three more years in prison, if she remains infraction free within that time period.
“Today, I have a deeper understanding of not just my life, but human life,” Oliver told the board during Friday’s hearing.
Oliver has been in prison since 2001 when she was sentenced to 22 years for her role in the murder of 64-year-old Jerry Heimann. She and four other teens were recruited by family friend, Barbara Opal, to stab and beat Heimann to death. Opal worked as a caretaker for Heimman’s mother, and allegedly wanted to steal thousands of dollars from his bank accounts.
In exchange for the crime, Oliver’s attorney says Opal promised the teens money and rewards. Oliver was supposed to get free rides and visits to the roller-skating rink.
During her emotional telephone testimony, Oliver described the crime:
“I remember Jeff (Grote) and I checking his pulse and we both confirmed that he was dead, but Jeff insisted I hit him over the head to make sure he was dead, and that I would be as much guilty as them. I grabbed the bat and I raised it above my head. As I savagely hit him over the head… I remember sitting in county jail ashamed of myself. That wasn’t me.”
Barely 14 at the time, Oliver was charged as an adult. She admitted to the crime from the start and agreed to a non-jury trial and to testify against the others. Friends and family felt the penalty was too stiff for someone so young.
Melinda Terry was Oliver’s 7th grade teacher. ”We were absolutely dumbfounded at the response of the legal team, of the community,” Terry said. “We knew these kids, and we knew what had happened was a total travesty,” said Terry.
Close to 40 people packed the Olympia hearing room to testify to the board that Oliver deserves a chance to give back to society, based on her remorse and the steps she’s taken to improve her life.