Judith Ann Neelley will now have a chance at parole following a court ruling on Wednesday.
Neelley was convicted and originally sentenced to die for the 1982 murder of a 13-year-old girl in DeKalb County.
On Wednesday, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Neelley can proceed with her lawsuit challenging an Alabama law enacted in 2003 aimed at retroactively preventing her parole.
The appeals court reversed U.S. District Court Judge Keith Watkins’ ruling that says Neelley’s 2014 lawsuit challenging that state law – Act 2003-300 – was filed too late under the statute of limitations. Watkins had said she should have filed the lawsuit in 2003.
In its opinion on Wednesday the appeals court states that the Parole Board initially thought the 2003 Act did not apply to Neelley because the retroactivity clause went back to 1998 and she committed her crime in 1982.
The saga began in September 1982 when Neelley kidnapped Lisa from Riverbend Mall in Rome, and carried her to a motel room for her husband Alvin to rape. Over the next several days, Alvin raped Lisa numerous times, with Neelley assisting the action.
Police said that when the couple was done, Neelley took Lisa to Little River Canyon outside Fort Payne where Neelley injected Lisa six times with liquid drain cleaner in a botched attempt to kill her. After failing to die, Neelley led Lisa to the rim of the gorge and then proceeded to shove her in the canyon.
Alvin Neelley was convicted in the death of a woman in Georgia and died while in prison there in 2005.