Woman convicted in boyfriend’s 1998 killing released on probation

DOVER — Following a judge’s modified sentence order on Monday, a woman convicted of a 1998 murder was released from prison this week and is now on probation.

Catherine W. Culp was released from Delores J. Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution in New Castle, where she had been incarcerated since July 29, 1998 after the shooting death of boyfriend Lee B. Hicks after a party south of Canterbury.

Attorney William Deely, who represented Culp at a motion for sentence review hearing last Thursday, said he notified Culp on Tuesday morning of the court’s order.

“She was ecstatic,” he said. “She was excited. She was appreciative of what had gone on.”

The Delaware Department of Justice declined comment.

The Department of Correction said Culp was escorted through the front entrance of Baylor as she left the prison. “At the time of her departure, she was permitted to take any personal artifacts of her choosing,” DOC spokeswoman Chelsea Hicks said Thursday.

Typically, the DOC said, released inmates have one to three days to report to Delaware Probation and Parole upon her release. Culp is on Level III probation.

“She was given reporting instructions,” Ms. Hicks said.

“Offenders are typically instructed to report to their assigned Probation Officer anywhere between 24 and 72 hours of release.”

Ms. Hicks said “offenders who are released will be provided with a bus pass and/or stipend with a combined monetary value not to exceed $50.”

Culp was convicted of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and sentenced to 28 years, suspended after 17 years, in prison by Judge Henry duPont Ridgely on Aug. 1, 2001 in Kent County Superior Court. Mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines called for at least 13 years of prison time.

After hearing arguments from Mr. Deely and Deputy Attorney General Jason Cohee last Thursday, Judge Robert B. Young cited Culp’s extensive rehabilitation efforts as critical to the modified sentence order.

The order noted that the Level III probationary status may be can transferred to Florida if Culp meets interstate transfer guidelines.

Generally, Ms. Hicks said, “When an offender is scheduled for release, the DOC obtains the order directly from the court who has authorized the release.

“Our Central Offender Records department receives the order and begins processing the release. Additionally, a national inquiry is conducted to ensure that the offender has no outstanding warrants or capias’ in another state. “

On its Web site, the DOC described Level III probation as “Intensive supervision (that) entails at least the equivalent of one hour of supervision per day and no more than 56 hours of supervision per week.

“The minimum of one hour of supervision per day is achieved through direct offender contact, collateral contact, verification of each offender’s activities (e.g., residence, employment, training and school), and performance with court-ordered treatment and Community Service.

“The emphasis is on supervision through increased community contacts.”

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