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Woman convicted for role in murders seeks early release

Woman convicted for role in murders seeks early release

VALPARAISO -- A woman convicted of manipulating her teen-age sons into killing

her husband and mother-in-law wants to be freed from prison after serving less

than 14 years.

Marie Witte, described by a prosecutor as the "coldest" women he ever

encountered in the courtroom, said she should be released because she found

religion behind bars and has earned a college degree.

Witte, 51, is serving two concurrent terms for murder for her roles in the 1981

shooting death of Paul Witte and the 1984 crossbow murder of Elaine Witte,

whose body was dismembered and never located. She is not due to be released

from the Indiana Women's Prison in Indianapolis until Oct. 13, 2028.

Witte's petition for early release was filed in both Porter Superior Court in

Valparaiso and LaPorte Superior Court in Michigan City. In it, she said she has

worked hard at changing herself "so her crimes will never recur."

Through therapy, counseling, education, time and self-introspection, Witte said

she has "overcome the issues in her life which brought her to prison."

While in prison, Witte obtained a 3.8 grade-point average while earning a

bachelor of arts degree, the petition said. She has also completed 500 hours in

family living vocational training and numerous Bible study courses.

William Herrbach, the deputy LaPorte County prosecutor who tried her case, said

she does not deserve to ever be released -- not only because of the murders,

but also for ruining the lives of her sons through her cunning ability to

manipulate.

"For that I don't think there's any forgiveness," Herrbach said.

Witte was shot by his son, Eric, while lying on a sofa in the family's Beverly

Shores home in 1981. Witte told her son that she and her husband were divorcing

and the only way to keep herself and the children "off the streets" was to kill

him, Herrbach said.

Herrbach said that Butch Witte, at the request of his mother, killed Elaine

Witte in the victim's home outside Michigan City. She told her son that Elaine

Witte "was tired of them living with her and was going to kick us out in the

street and we might as well do her in," Herrbach said.

Elaine Witte's body was never recovered. Pieces of what was believed to be hair

were recovered from a garbage disposal in the victim's home, Herrbach said.

Witte and her sons drove to San Diego, Calif., where they claimed to have

disposed of Elaine Witte's torso in a landfill. It was never found.

Herrbach described Witte as "the coldest lady I could ever recall during a

trial."

Marie Witte's 60-year prison term for Elaine Witte's murder is not due to

expire until 2028. Greg Scott, a spokesman for the Women's Prison, said she

already has completed a 30-year sentence for attempted murder in that case.

Witte also is serving concurrent, 50-year sentences for murder and attempted

murder, due to expire in 2009, in her husband's case.

Eric Witte was sentenced to 20 years. With credit for good behavior, he was

discharged from the Indiana Department of Correction in September 1996.

Butch Witte was sentenced to 25 years in prison. DOC officials could not

immediately confirm whether he had finished his term.

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