A Toronto woman convicted of killing her seven-year-old stepson will be allowed to leave prison unsupervised to prepare for life in a halfway house.
In a decision released today, the Parole Board of Canada says Marcia Dooley has been compliant while out on escorted absences from the minimum-security prison where she is held.
It says Dooley, 49, will be allowed to spend four unescorted five-day stints at a halfway house over a year so she can familiarize herself with the routine and the community.
The board imposed several conditions, however, barring her from taking a position of trust over minors and from contacting any of her stepson's relatives or her accomplice, her husband Edward (Tony) Dooley.
The parole board panel also required that Dooley disclose any relationships with people who have parental responsibility over minors.
Dooley and her husband were convicted of second-degree murder in 2002 for the death of Tony's son, Randal. They were both sentenced to life in prison, with Dooley able to apply for parole after 18 years and her husband after 13.
At their trial, court heard Randal was brutally abused for months after he and his brother came from Jamaica to live with their father and stepmother in Toronto in 1997.
Court heard Randal weighed only 41 pounds when he died in 1998, and had 13 fractured ribs, a lacerated liver, multiple brain injuries and bruises all over his body.
The trial found Dooley was the one who fatally struck Randal and meted out most of the abuse, while her husband turned a blind eye to her actions.
The parole board decision said the couple tried to cover up the killing and later challenged their conviction. Their appeal was rejected in 2009.
Dooley appeared before the parole board on Jan. 22 but the panel released its written ruling Monday.
It said in the document that Dooley initially showed "no remorse" but has since made significant progress in understanding the factors that contributed to her violence and the impact it had.
"You now acknowledge that you inflicted emotional and physical abuse on the victim, resulting in his death," the board said.
"You told the board that, at the time of the offence, you had a low tolerance for frustration, lacked problem-solving skills, and failed to use consequential thinking. As you were unable to communicate your frustration and resentment, it continued to build and you took your anger out on the victim, resulting in fatal consequences."
Dooley has successfully completed roughly 20 escorted temporary absences and work releases, which involved activities such as attending church, taking a post-secondary class and visiting her father, the panel said. Reports indicate she applied the skills and knowledge gained in prison programs during those absences, it said.
Her behaviour in prison has also improved, with no issues in the past two years, it said, noting Dooley had previously demonstrated bullying behaviour.
The board said it imposed the restrictions because Dooley's crimes took place in the context of a relationship where she was in a position of trust and her violent behaviour was condoned.
Tony Dooley, meanwhile, was approved for escorted temporary absences in 2017.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Feb. 3, 2020.