A 34-year-old Brisbane woman imprisoned for staging a home invasion robbery during which her stepmother died was granted parole this week 12 years after being convicted of second-degree murder.
The two-person Board of Parole Hearing found Mianta McKnight suitable for release after a hearing at which her father, and the husband of victim Betty McKnight, spoke on her behalf. The parole hearing was McKnight’s third since the Nov. 1, 1999 conviction. She will be released later this year if the governor’s office does not overrule the decision.
McKnight is serving 15 years to life at the women’s prison in Chowchilla. The two men who actually committed the robbery were both convicted by juries of first-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
All three were teenagers at the time of Betty McKnight’s Dec. 1, 1995 death but were tried as adults. On that night, James Cavitt, 17, and Robert Williams, 16, broke into the McKnight home in Brisbane. Betty McKnight, 58, was covered with a sheet, bound and gagged. She later suffocated after being beaten and having duct tape wrapped around her neck and placed over her mouth.
Mianta McKnight, who was tied up before the boys left, first claimed to be another victim who had freed herself and later admitted setting up the robbery of her stepmother with whom she didn’t get along.
An appeal by Cavitt and Williams notes that Mianta told school friends how much she hated Betty McKnight and sometimes said she wanted to kill or strangle her.
Cavitt and Williams claimed Betty McKnight was still breathing when they left. Stolen property was found in Cavitt’s home including a handgun wrapped in the same type of tape purchased by Mianta the day before the robbery.
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