A family is outraged after the woman who nearly killed their daughter, gets early parole. This after serving only two years of a 13-year sentence.
It was a crime of passion. In January of 2014, Kayla French was arrested for stabbing her ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend four times -- including once in the heart -- all in front of the victim's 4-year-old daughter.
"LaTosha was given less than a 5% chance of survival. Homicide detectives set with me all night -- waiting on doctors to pronounce her dead. It was the worst night a mother could ever imagine," recalled Debra Balams, victim's mother.
Amazingly, LaTosha Balams pulled through. Since then she's underwent 13 surgeries -- including two open heart surgeries. While she's had a lot of setbacks, her family says the biggest came earlier this month -- when she got the news French was being released from prison after only serving 2 1/2 years of a 13-year plea deal.
"People are serving many, many years for non-violent crimes and still can't go home... Getting denied over and over. What is so special that Kayla is coming home in two years," said Carlos Balams, victim's stepfather.
It took two years for the case to go to trial. During that time, French was free on bond. She was initially charged with attempted murder, but ended up taking a plea deal for first degree assault. According to the Alabama Department of Corrections website, French's minimum release date was supposed to be March 12, 2020.
"It's too early... It's too early. Two years -- just two years ago we were sitting in the courtroom facing her and her family... I'm wondering what is the justice system thinking," said Shannon Balams, victim's sister.
Adding to their outrage, the family learned online that French's parole was granted. They also say the parole board sent the notice to the wrong address -- otherwise they'd been at her hearing to speak against it.
"We were never notified. Never notified," said Debra. "Somebody dropped the ball on this... I don't care who it was but the ball has definitely been dropped."
"It's hard and I understand why this victim's family is so upset about this... I understand why," said Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich.
Despite having one of her assistant district attorneys go before the parole board -- it didn't make a difference. Rich is calling it another injustice.
"More and more of these offenders are getting out sooner and sooner. I don't think that justice is going to be served in any of our cases until we have truth and sentencing -- meaning a sentence is exactly what it says it is. And no one seems to be interested in that. Let me tell you what I think we need to do. We need to build more prisons. When is the last time we built a prison in the state of Alabama -- before you were born," said Rich.
On top of prayer, for the last two weeks LaTosha's family has been writing letters to everyone -- including the governor -- wanting to be heard.
"We're not asking anymore than her family would be asking. If the shoes were reversed and it was my child -- if it was LaTosha that had done this to Kayla -- they would be sitting on this very couch asking for the same justice," said Debra.
Meanwhile, we've reached out to the Alabama Pardons and Parole Board for comment but have not heard back.
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