Betty Smithey has spent the last 49 years locked up in the Arizona State Prison Complex in Perryville, Ariz. The almost 50 year stint makes Smithey the nation's longest serving female inmate. But on Tuesday, the 69-year-old who was convicted the 1963 New Year's Day murder of Sandy Gerberick, woke up a free woman.
A convicted murderer, Smithey was granted parole by the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency on Monday and was released from the Arizona State Prison Complex in Perryville, walking with a cane.
"It's wonderful driving down the road and not seeing any barbed wire," Smithey told the Arizona Republic. "I am lucky, so very lucky."
At just 20-years-old, Smithy was arrested, charged and convicted of murdering a 15-month-old girl she had been babysitting.
Receiving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, the only person who could grant her clemency was the governor, according to Arizona law at the time.
Having tried to appeal to then-governors Fyfe Symington and Janet Napolitano, Smithey failed and instead received a lesser sentence of 48 years to life from Current governor Jan Brewer.
Smithey, who has has battled breast cancer and "a myriad of other health issues," will live with her niece in Mesa, Ariz., her attorney, Andy Silverman told ABC News.
"She's absolutely not a threat to society. She's almost 70 years old now," Silverman said. "She's done a lot of reflection. Forty-nine years in prison, you think a lot about what you've been through."