Marybeth Tinning is Granted Parole After 30 Years in Prison

Interviewer 1: It’s “Quinn & Cantarra,” PYX 106. 1-800-LAW-1010, Front page of the TU this morning, right next to the Trump stuff, important story, the Capital and the woman who is getting out on parole after killing her four-month-old daughter 30 years ago. Paul actually has a…if I’m not mistaken, if I read that correctly, you worked for the public defender’s office at the time and maybe even had to help write some of those appeals for her and her case?

Paul: Yeah. I was 22 years old, I was in law school and it was my first job. So one of the things we did is, we wrote…I was given this appeal on this very voluminous case. And it was super interesting and it was one of these things, you were right in it as a law student, yeah.

Interviewer 1: So Paul, when we heard the news yesterday that Marybeth Tinning will be paroled, what was your reaction?

Paul: Well, you know, it’s been 30 years. And she finally admitted to having done the crime, at least to Tammy Lynn. Again, we’re talking about a woman who had eight natural births, she had one adopted child and only one lived past the age of four.

Interviewer 1: Which is where the…no, the other one was four months. But come on. I mean, what’s going on here? Well, she’s going to be living around society. She poisoned her husband. I mean, she can do that again.

Paul: So I’d never met her, but I had met her husband during the appeal. He would bring stuff over and he was trying to support this. And he didn’t believe that at all. And I don’t think he believes it today, since it looks like when she gets out, she’s going to be living with him. But yeah, everyone in that family was just…was either killed or poisoned. And there was one child that was older that wasn’t touched.

And so, here, we’ve got a situation where she’s out. Is she dangerous to society, when she’d been primarily not only attacking children, but just her own, right? And only…again, only convicted in the death of one. And what she admitted to was, the child was crying, she was severely depressed, she put a towel over the child’s face to stop the child from crying. And then, the child stopped crying, obviously died.

Interviewer 1: In other words, she did it because she thought…she just figured the kid was going to die anyways?

Paul: Yeah. She was…yeah. She felt, again, she was a horrible person, a horrible mother. Her defense was that she was sort of out of her mind at the time. Not quite a defense of insanity, but just basically saying post-partum and she just wasn’t able to control the family. But it’s one of the…so she’s out now, she’s 75 or 76. And so, the question is, do we…? There is a right to parole. She was…again, her sentence is 20 years to life, she served 30. And boy, the parole board had a tough decision to make.

Interviewer 1: Let me go…let’s go back, because we weren’t here. I think some of this was in the mid-80s, but… So she was convicted of the death of one child. Was she tried in the death of any of the other children, Paul?

Interviewer 2: No.

Paul: No, she had confessed to killing three. But the whole appeal had to do with whether or not that this confession was voluntary, right? Because…was it used through trickery? Did they catch her at a time when she just started feeling guilty about their deaths? And so…but they did allow the admission to go in. But they only charged her with the death of one, even though she’d admitted to killing two more. Again, the evidence was real tricky. It sounds kind of a lay-up, “Well, she admitted it. Let’s do that.”

Well, those admissions were allowed in court. And again, this jury kind of stayed out for a while and no one knew what she was going to do. She didn’t testify at her own trial, which some people thought that that may have helped her tremendously, had she done that and chose not to, which you don’t have to. So yeah. We’ve got the story that now…again, her admission in 2011 has now…any doubters that were out there now sort of accept the fact that she killed at least one of the children.

Interviewer 1: Talking to Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, 1-800-LAW-1010 at Talking about the Marybeth Tinning case, she’s going to be paroled here. I guess my question is, what’s the main thing they’re looking for when they parole someone, that they won’t do it again, they won’t harm anyone again?

Paul: Yes. Of course, no guarantees. But yet, they no longer become…and again, what’s happened to her for the last 30 years? She’s been a bit of a model prisoner, she’s volunteered to take all these sorts of…

Interviewer 1: I know, but what about the last…? Since 2007, there’s been, like, eight different opportunities to parole. Well, how…? She’s changed so dramatically in 11 years after eight opportunities?

Paul: Well, I hear it when you come down on it and I’m not sure what I’d do. But at some point, there’s only so many years attached to your sentence and they decided just that…so they’re very intimate. It’s a tough decision to make. You can see the media’s saying, “We’ve had a cop killer released this year and now, we’ve got a baby killer released this year.” So a politically difficult one for them to do. It’d probably have been easier if they kept her in.

So I don’t know what she’s possibly like after 30 years of prison, but she’ll also continue to be under supervision all the way, for the rest of her life. She’s just not going to be able to get out and move through each day.

Interviewer 1: Once a week? What is that, once a week, once a month? What is that?

Paul: Probably starts out like that, to be a frequency. And then, it’s going to go down to a monthly and then, it’s going to more just checking in. So we’re going to continue to see how she operates. And again, 75-year-old woman roaming around the capital district, my guess is that she’s going to be the subject of people just knowing who she is and where she is at all times.

Interviewer 1: Nice first case, Paul. You couldn’t get some zoning ordinates? I mean, you had to get this one for your first one?

Paul: Well, we’d lost. You have to keep in mind, we lost the appeal. And so, my first one was [inaudible 00:05:52].

Interviewer 1: Well, intense, huh? Intense.

Paul: She was.

Interviewer 1: Well, we got the right guy to talk about it. Good stuff…

Interviewer 2: Thanks, Paul.

Interviewer 1: …this morning, Paul. 1-800-LAW-1010, Paul Harding…

Interviewer 2: Thanks, Paul.

Interviewer 1: …Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Take care, pal.

Paul: Bye, guys.