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Pardoned Deborah Jahnke looking to bright future

By SCOTT FARRIS

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- -- Deborah Ann Jahnke, the victim of a lifetime of abuse at the hands of her father, will not have to go to prison for helping her brother kill him two years ago.

Wyoming Gov. Ed Herschler Monday commuted Deborah's 3- to 8-year prison sentence to one year's probation.

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Earlier this year, Herschler commuted the 5- to 15-year-sentence given her 18-year-old brother, Richard Jahnke, and ordered him sent to the Wyoming Boys School in Worland until his 21st birthday.

Herschler granted the commutation, provided that Deborah, 19, agrees to an 'intensive' 30-day psychiatric evaluation.

Deborah has been staying at the Excelsior Youth Center, a Denver home for troubled girls, since her spring 1983 conviction of aiding and abetting voluntary manslaughter.

Her lawyer, Terry Mackey, said she had already completed enough courses to qualify as a sophomore at Metro State College in Denver in a liberal arts program, but with the commutation she can now truly begin planning her future.

'Today is the first day of the rest of her life,' Mackey told United Press International. 'I think Deborah has the potential to be a very productive member of society.'

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The plight of the Jahnke children drew nationwide attention because of their claims of a lifetime of abuse suffered at the hands of their father, an Internal Revenue Service agent, and because they alleged local authorities had not responded to their pleas for help.

The numerous national media stories, including a segment on the CBS program '60 Minutes,' prompted hundreds of people to write or telephone Herschler and demand he commute the teenagers' sentences.

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