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Sentence reduced in attempt by woman to smother mother

A Royalton woman found guilty of attempting to suffocate her mother in 2009 has won a reduced sentence due to an error by the judge in setting her original sentencing.

Deborah A. Kozody, 52, who prosecutors said tried to kill her frail 79-year-old mother by smothering her with a pillow, was found guilty of first-degree reckless endangerment and received the maximum sentence of 3 1/2 to seven years in state prison from Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III on July 7, 2009.

Murphy reduced the sentence to two to six years when Kozody appeared in court for an administrative appeal Tuesday, and he was informed of an error in calculating the minimum sentencing from Kozody's new attorney, Norman P. Effman of Warsaw.

Effman told The Buffalo News Wednesday that the error came to light after Kozody was denied parole at a hearing in Albion Correctional Facility on March 13 and he was hired afterwards by some of her friends.

He said he checked all the sources and found that the minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years was incorrect.

"In a normal indeterminate sentencing, the basic formula is that whatever the maximum is, the minimum is a third of that. She pled guilty to reckless endangerment first, which is a D-felony with a maximum of seven years. Judge Murphy gave her a minimum of 3 1/2 years, rather than 2 1/3 ," Kozody said.

He called it "amazing that it got this far" with the mistake not being picked up by anybody.

Effman said Murphy could have just resentenced Kozody to the minimum, but he gave the judge a sentencing memorandum listing all she had accomplished in a positive way while she was in prison and she was given a new, shorter sentence.

When Kozody was originally sentenced, Murphy called her care of her parents, especially her mother, "a reign of terror," and said he had to separate her from them by sending her to prison.

Effman said Kozody will likely not receive a new parole hearing, but will be eligible to be released earlier, serving two-thirds of a six-year sentence rather than two-thirds of a seven-year sentence.

"Four years will be her conditional release date, moving her release date up eight months, from September 2013 to January 2013," Effman said.

But he stressed that Kozody would remain on active parole until she completes the entire six years.

"Given the nature of the offense and the fact that I am sure there is an order of protection in place, the justice system will ensure that she is mentally safe from harming herself and certainly from harming anyone else," Effman said.

"If she violates any conditions of her parole then she will go back to prison," he said.