EDMONTON — A woman convicted of first-degree murder in the 1989 beating death of a man from Wetaskiwin, Alta., has been granted full parole under Canada's faint-hope clause.
A decision made by the Parole Board of Canada granted Yvonne Johnson, 48, full parole on Dec. 17, with conditions to abstain from alcohol and drugs, continue psychological counselling and to not associate with known or suspected criminals.
Johnson was convicted in 1991 of first-degree murder in the beating death of a man she suspected of being a child molester.
There was never any proof the man molested anyone.
Johnson was initially given an automatic sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years, but in 2005, she won the right to apply for early parole under Canada's faint-hope clause.
Inmates must have served at least 15 years of their sentences before they can make an application through the clause.
In its written decision, the board outlined Johnson's commitment to "moving forward" with her life and her continued ability to manage her risk in the community as reasons for her release.
Her risk to reoffend is assessed as low.
The decision states that while the victim's family members were not present at her most recent parole hearing, they have consistently rejected her early release.
Parole documents say Johnson runs an at-home business selling aboriginal arts and crafts. She is also the primary caregiver for her two grandchildren and receives some financial help from the province for their care.
Johnson served nearly 17 years of her sentence before she was first released on day parole in February 2008, which was renewed every six months until February 2010.
She applied for full parole in October 2009, but was denied because the board "noted there were several issues of concern that needed to be addressed." She was, however, granted overnight-leave privileges on her day parole. She applied for full parole once more in March but was once again denied.
It's not known where Johnson will reside following her release. Because she was serving a life sentence, she will be subject to supervision by the Correctional Service of Canada for the remainder of her life, parole documents state.
On Sept. 15 1989, 36-year-old Leonard Skwarok was lured to Johnson's home, where he was attacked because Johnson, who was 27 at the time, and three others mistakenly believed he was a child molester. All four attackers were heavily intoxicated.
Johnson, a victim of childhood abuse, sodomized Skwarok with a chair leg before strangling him with a telephone cord.
Johnson co-authored a book with Edmontonian Rudy Wiebe about the murder and her life titled, Stolen Life: The Journey of a Cree Woman, which was nominated for a Governor General's Award. ..Source.. by Mariam Ibrahim