Convicted killer gets early release


DOVER — A judge, citing successful rehabilitation and significant punishment for a severe crime, granted probation Thursday to an imprisoned woman convicted of shooting her boyfriend to death at his Felton home in 1998.

Superior Court Judge Noel J. Primos accepted the Delaware Department of Correction’s recommendation to reduce the sentence of Catherine W. Culp and release her for a Level III probation status to cover two years.

Culp, 58 years old when she sought early release in mid-February, was convicted of second-degree murder of Lee Hicks in a second trial in July 2001.

An earlier first-degree murder conviction was reversed in Delaware Supreme Court.

Catherine W. Culp

Last month attorney William Deely successfully argued that Culp’s supposed exemplary record of conduct and rehabilitation while in prison earned a release. He cited her lack of being a threat to society if freed and genuine remorse for the incident. She was previously scheduled for release in March 2019.

Describing the killing as “senseless” the Delaware Department of Justice opposed early release and pointed to Mr. Hicks’s family’s opposition as well.

“The State’s position is that this was an appropriate sentence at the time and remains appropriate in light of the serious and unprovoked nature of this offense.”

Deputy Attorney General Dennis Kelleher argued against a sentence modification at a February hearing before Judge Primos.

According to the judge in an 11-page order, “The Court finds that the objectives of retribution and rehabilitation have been accomplished, and that neither goal will be meaningfully furthered by Ms. Culp’s continued incarceration.”

On April 18, 2016 Superior Court modified Culp’s sentence due to “extraordinary rehabilitation.” The decision was reversed by the Delaware Supreme Court on Dec. 8, 2016 and she paid her way back to Delaware and returned to prison at Delores J. Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution in New Castle after living in Florida in the interim.

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