Reporting from Denver—Defense lawyer Elvin Gentry was walking into the El Paso County courthouse this year as an assistant district attorney was walking out. The prosecutor stopped Gentry to chat about the news that outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter had just commuted the life sentence of one of Colorado Springs' most notorious killers, a woman named Jennifer Reali.
"Did you have a hand in that?" the prosecutor asked.
Though it may have faded from memory for some, it was a case that never went away for Gentry. Reali has remained a presence in Gentry's life. An amiable lawyer cut from the "Matlock" mold, Gentry passed retirement age years ago but has no plans to quit.
"I'm the kind of guy who once a case is closed, after we've done everything we can do, I move on; it's history," he said. "This case has never been history to me. I knew from Day One I was going to do something. I wasn't going to leave a 30-year-old in prison for 40 years."
It was a crime that both horrified and transfixed, capturing national attention in the early 1990s as the "Fatal Attraction" killing. Reali, a pretty born-again Christian, wife of an Army captain and mother of two, had never been in trouble before.
But on Sept. 12, 1990, she ambushed and gunned down the disabled wife of her lover as the victim pleaded for mercy. Reali insisted it was her lover, Brian Hood, who instigated the crime; first seducing her and then, by using Bible verses, convincing her that killing his wife was God's will. Hood, convicted on lesser charges, said Reali acted alone, becoming obsessed with him when he tried to end the affair.