“I've Waited a Long Time to Hug My Children”

A woman who sat in her car while her husband robbed a liquor store and killed its owner was reunited with her family Wednesday after 29 years in prison.

Family members hugged and kissed Connie Keel during the reunion.

"I've waited a long time to hug my children, to hold them in my arms without prison guards around me," she said. "No one is there to tell me you're hugging them too long. It makes me really, really happy."

She will live in a half-way house temporarily, according to the Mercury News.

A USC law student took her case as part of the Gould School of Law's Post-Conviction Justice Project.

Keel was 21 in 1980 when her former husband, Ricky Keel, and his cousin killed a liquor store owner during a robbery in Campbell. They are serving life sentences after convictions of first-degree murder.

Connie Keel was convicted of first-degree murder as an accomplice. Several parole requests were denied since 1996.

She served at the state women's prison in Chino.

"My grounding is my spirituality," Keel said. "I have so many things to be thankful for. I'm thankful for the moment."

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Law student Adam Reich argued that Keel's husband raped and beat her. Reich said she was not capable of disobeying when Ricky Keel ordered her at gunpoint to wait in the car.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Friday that he would not halt the parole.

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