Virginia inmate once on death-row expected to be released from prison

NORFOLK, Va. - An inmate once on death row is expected to be released from prison next week.

Joseph Giarratano

Joseph Giarratano was granted parole in November and will leave the Deerfield Correctional Center on December 20, the Richmond Times Dispatch reported.

Giarratano spent decades behind bars for the rape and murder of 15-year old Michelle Kline and the murder of her mom, Toni, in the Willoughby section of Norfolk.

As part of his punishment he was put on death row, but in 1991 Gov. Doug Wilder commuted his sentence to life in prison due to questions over his guilt, which eventually made him eligible for parole. Originally, Giarratano confessed to the murders, but later said he blacked out due to drug addiction and didn't know what happened to the two.

Giarratano has an active blog about his case.

"I began tearing up. It is hard to believe. I will be out with friends before Christmas," he wrote recently about his parole. "Wow!"

Now facing release, Giarratano says his life is in a much better place than it was decades ago.

"Life for me is not going to be easy. I am, essentially, beginning from scratch and, in many ways, from behind the Eight Ball so to speak. I can meet the difficulties and obstacles that come my way," he wrote.

Because the case is so old, some of the people originally involved in the case have passed away. It's not clear what the relatives of the victims think.