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Woman Who Shot Husband To Death Gets Pardon

December 5, 1996

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ A woman who served nearly 10 years for murder after shooting her husband was granted a pardon Wednesday, and pledged to help other battered women once she gets out of prison.

June Briand said she had been physically and mentally abused by her husband throughout their six-year marriage and she was convinced he was going to kill her. She shot James Briand four times in the head in 1987.

The governor’s five-member Executive Council voted unanimously Wednesday to release Briand early from her 15-year sentence.

``She’s a different person than she was when she committed the crime,″ Gov. Steve Merrill said.

Briand, 33, will be out on work-release in April and eligible for parole a year later. Her lawyer had hoped Briand would be in a halfway house within a month. Her pardon is conditional on good behavior.

James Briand’s family opposed her release and testified he was not a violent person and that she lied about the abuse.

Briand thanked the governor and the council members.

``I’d like to let you know I will move forward now, and I will do those things that I promised to help other battered women not end up in my position,″ she said.

``She just wants to get on with her life now,″ her attorney Susannah Colt said. ``She knows that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.″

Pardons are rarely granted in New Hampshire. The last two were also women who said they were abused and were involved in killing their husbands.

Briand was abandoned by her parents and raised by grandparents in a household of alcohol and drug abuse. She was married at age 14 to a 38-year-old man, divorced at 16, married at 17 to James Briand, became a mother at 18 and was convicted of murder at 23.

``This is as normal as it’s gotten for me,″ Briand told The Associated Press in an interview in prison last month. ``I guess that sounds kind of crazy to people who don’t know my story, but this is the safest I’ve been in my life.″

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