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Women Fight Maryland Law That Allows Convicted Killers to Get Out of Prison Early

"How can a murderer come home on good time?"

It took detectives more than a decade to find the man who killed a Prince George's County high school student. But after less than nine years in prison, he's a free man.

Nia Owens was found dead in a wooded area in Hyattsville, Maryland, more than 20 years ago. Police said she was sexually assaulted and strangled near Northwestern High School in 1996.

Years later, Matthew Bethea was convicted and sentenced to serve 15 years in prison after DNA linked him to the crime.

Recently, Bethea was able to reduce his sentence through diminution credits, which allow inmates time off their sentences for showing good behavior in prison. He was released from prison on March 5.

"To know that he's out and he's around this metropolitan area, only makes me want to move to another area," Owens' mother, Angela Wood, said Tuesday.

Wood joined other women in Annapolis to push for legislation to have diminution credits eliminated for convicted murderers.

"If there's any type of good time credit, then it needs to be something that they earn in the prison to affect them in the prison - not coming home to society," Wood said.

The credit system was set up as an incentive to prisoners. If they work, take classes and have good behavior that can get an early release.

Gale Seaton's teenage daugther Stacy was killed in Bowie. She said the man convicted of hiring someone to killer her is set to get out in one year.

"Somebody who's a cold-blooded killer, you're not going to rehabilitate them," Seaton said.

"We are so busy trying to busy trying to work on justice reinvestment and cutting everybody breaks, we've got to realize that when they are serious crimes, and we don't have the death penalty anymore, that we really need to make sure that justice is done," Maryland Del. Susan McComas said.

Another person's DNA was found on Owens at the time of her death. That DNA was placed in a national database, but has not been identified.

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