By Lois Henry
A new law that took effect this year may be bringing a confounding and painful old case back to light here in Kern County.
Not for a retrial, but to determine if Glenda Crosley has served enough time for killing her husband 27 years ago, given what is known today about the effects of battered women's syndrome.
Lois Henry hosts "Californian Radio" every Wednesday on KERN 1180 AM from 9 to 10 a.m. You can get your two cents in by calling 842-KERN.
The below sites are taking donations to help pay the legal costs of a new sentencing hearing for Glenda Crosley and other women incarcerated for killing abusive partners:
Victims of crimes can go to this site to fill out a form asking to be notified of the perpetrator's status in state prison or for upcoming parole hearings:
Help for victims of abuse
If you or your children are in immediate danger, call 911.
You can also get help and services through Kern County Mental Health, Department of Human Services, Child Protective Services, Adult Protective services or any of the local nonprofit health services agencies.
Other helping agencies include:
Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, 615 California Ave.; 325-5943; fax: 325-4482; gbla.org/ez.php?Page =3226.
Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault Outreach Center, 1921 19th St.; 322-9199; 24-hour hotline: 327-1091; toll- free: 800-273-7713; kernalliance.org.
The facts of the murder aren't disputed.
Glenda Crosley rammed her husband, Sam Crosley, with her car in a parking lot at Ming Avenue and Real Road on Aug. 12, 1986.
She backed up and hit him a second time, crushing him between her grill and the trunk of his car. Then she drove away with him still pinned beneath her car, dragging him through the lot.
Did she do it because she was in a rage over him leaving her?
Or because, after 24 years of beatings and abuse she snapped?
"She's taken accountability for what she did," her middle daughter, Stacy Crosley said. "We're not saying she's not at fault, or what she did was right. We're saying she's served enough time and if it happened today, she wouldn't be getting life."
Stacy Crosley has begun a fundraising effort to help pay for an attorney to bring the case back to Kern County for re-sentencing. (See box.)
The new law, AB593, expands existing law to allow for resentencing hearings if expert testimony on battered women's syndrome was unfairly limited in cases tried prior to the 1990s.
Glenda Crosley was sentenced to 15 years to life for second degree murder after her second trial in 1988. Her first trial was scrapped when the jury rejected a first degree murder conviction but deadlocked on second degree or manslaughter charges.
In both trials, numerous witnesses, including the Crosley's three children, testified to the ongoing abuse in the Crosley house at the hands of Sam Crosley.
Glenda Crosley was allowed an expert who testified about battered women's syndrome.
But, Stacy Crosley said, the expert's testimony was tightly limited and the judges in both trials told jurors to discount that testimony.
If Glenda can get a resentencing, Stacy Crosley said, her supporters also hope to bring up evidence that wasn't allowed in the previous trials, such as Sam Crosley's arrests, numerous police visits to the home for spousal abuse and Sam's trips to the hospital for psychiatric evaluations.
Assuming they're successful, the Kern County District Attorney's office plans to fight it every inch, I was told.
"On paper, she looks good," said Deputy District Attorney David Wolf, who appeared for the county at Glenda Crosley's parole hearing on Dec. 27, 2012. "And I do believe in battered women's syndrome. But she (Glenda Crosley) has an inability to admit that she's done anything wrong and be honest."
A couple of issues stuck out to Wolf from that parole hearing. One was, in describing the night she killed Sam Crosley to commissioners, Glenda Crosley said she hit his car with her car. She didn't say she hit him, Sam, and had to be prompted by commissioners on that.
She also hemmed and hawed when asked about her criminal juvenile record.
Wolf said records showed when Glenda Crosley was 12, she assaulted her mother and broke her mother's ribs.
He insisted that, again, showed a lack of remorse and an attempt to minimize her violence.
According to the hearing's transcript, however, Glenda Crosley's attorney pointed out that the incident with her mother never resulted in an arrest so his client wasn't being evasive about not having a violent criminal record as a juvenile.
To put that incident in context, one also should know that Glenda Crosley's father had died a few years earlier, which threw the family into a tailspin. Glenda and her three younger siblings were shuttled between family and church members' homes in what became a very rocky time.
Still, the board agreed with Wolf saying Glenda Crosley "lacks insight into her actions" and, therefore, is still too dangerous to be let out.
I don't know, we're talking about a now 68-year old woman not in the greatest health who had two moments of terrible, irrational violence with close family members in highly stressful situations.
I'm not saying she was right or wrong. I'm just saying I wouldn't exactly be worried about running into Glenda Crosley in a dark alley.
Either way, if the case comes back to Kern, it will be interesting to see how battered women's syndrome plays to a modern audience.
Much was made in 1986 -- and brought up again by Wolf -- about why Glenda attended the same singles group as Sam the night of the murder.
Even more, why did she go to the pizza party after the meeting, where Sam also was in attendance?
They were living apart, he had reportedly hired an attorney and was seeking a divorce.
"It's just odd that someone claiming battered women's syndrome is stalking her abuser," Wolf said. The jury 25 years ago agreed.
But family members and Glenda herself, said Sam still had a stranglehold on Glenda. She only went to the pizza party to retrieve the pink slip to her car, which Sam had allegedly stolen, along with other vital documents, after breaking into her apartment. He had also promised to give Glenda money for their youngest daughter's senior pictures, Stacy Crosley said.
The abuse, the control, the fear, it was all very real, she said.
So bad, she always thought it would end with her mom's death, not her dad's.
"Unless you lived it, you don't know."
Opinions expressed in this column are those of Lois Henry, not The Bakersfield Californian. Her column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Comment at http://www.bakersfield.com, call her at 395-7373 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org