Larry Race becomes a free man Monday, 22 years after going to prison for killing his wife, Debbie, during a 14th wedding anniversary cruise on Lake Superior.
And the woman's parents are happy for him. Sylvia Selvey, Debbie Race's 92-year-old mother, and her husband, Franklin, 89, never believed Race killed their 33-year-old daughter.
"He's a good boy," Sylvia Selvey said from her home in Staples. "We visited him all the time while he was in prison. We'll never believe that it was his fault, and how many years has it been?
"We still love him."
Race, formerly of Hoyt Lakes and now 56, declined an interview requests from the newspapers and television stations, including KARE 11.
John DeSanto, head of the St. Louis County Attorney's Office criminal division, is the prosecutor who put Race behind bars.
"I'm firmly confident that he was guilty of the crime that he was convicted of," DeSanto said. "But now that he has served his mandatory minimum of 17 years plus five years, I hope and pray that he is able to live a healthy, productive life out of prison."
For the past eight months, Race has been in a work-release program in Hennepin County, working in janitorial services and general maintenance. He is scheduled to check out of a Twin Cities-area halfway house Monday and move into a residence somewhere in Hennepin County.
Because he received a life sentence, Race will remain on parole indefinitely and be required to report to a parole officer.
Debbie Race's body was found washed ashore in Duluth on May 12, 1982. In a high-profile 1983 trial, jurors were told that Larry Race feigned boat trouble, persuaded his wife to board a rubber raft and then punctured it from below, leaving her adrift in a life jacket in frigid water.
It took four or five hours before Race shot off his distress flares.
Race claimed he put on a diving suit and got in the water to push the raft back to shore, but exhaustion and cold water forced him back to the boat, where he collapsed in exhaustion. He said that when he awoke hours later, he shot off the flares, got the engine running and went looking for his wife, but couldn't find her.
When Race was convicted of first-degree murder convicted, state law required that he serve 17 years before being considered for parole. The minimum was raised to 30 years in 1989.
Race was a model prisoner at the Stillwater state prison. He earned a college degree, studied business and theology, worked in the print shop, became skilled with computers and was a champion handball player.
He was denied parole in 2000 after serving 17 years. But at a parole hearing in 2002, an advisory board recommended that he be released in three years.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)