Judge to decide if Alpine Manor killer should be free

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One of two nurse’s aides convicted in the Alpine Manor nursing home murders decades ago could find out Tuesday if she will get out of prison.

Catherine Wood is expected in court around 2 p.m. A Kent County judge will hear arguments about whether she should be released.

In 1987, a jury convicted Wood and Gwendolyn Graham of killing patients at the former Alpine Manor nursing home. Graham and Wood suffocated five residents with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The nurse’s aides were reportedly trying to spell “murder” with the victims’ initials.

Graham was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.Wood has served 29 years of her 20-to-40-year sentence.

A judge ordered Wood’s release earlier this year after a parole board decided Wood would not be a menace to society if released. The board said, among other things, that she accepts responsibility for her role in the crime, behaved well in prison and has support from family or community members.

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said he wouldn't appeal the parole board's decision because it followed protocol, Wood was cooperative in the trial against Graham, and she hadn’t done anything inappropriate while in prison.

However, some of the victims’ relatives asked for an appeal because the parole board never notified them about its decision, and they feel Wood will kill again.

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