Release Kantzler! Former Oakland County Circuit Judges Barry Howard and Norman Lippitt Advocate to the Michigan Parole Board at Jackson Prison – October 12, 2017

When you think of a person or group of people advocating for the release of a prisoner, the sentencing judge isn’t the first person that comes to mind.

In the case of Karen Kantzler, her own sentencing judge, Norman Lippitt, made two trips to the Michigan Parole Board to plea for her release from prison. “It was a grievous error on my part,” Lippitt said.  “Domestic violence wasn’t on our radar in the 1980’s.”

Appointed by Governor Blanchard as a circuit court judge, Lippitt presided over the case of Karen Kantzler in the shooting death of her husband, Dr. Paul Kantzler, in March 1987. Kantzler was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life behind bars.  Lippitt believed Kantzler would serve as maximum of 10-12 years, then the sentencing guidelines changed later that year.

Lippitt’s successor judge, Barry Howard, reversed Kantzler’s sentence to time served.  “Ms. Kantzler has been abused her whole life and was a victim of battered spouse syndrome,” Howard said.

Kantzler was denied parole by the Michigan Parole Board at her hearing in 2015 when four members voted to release her and six members voted to keep her incarcerated. At 69-year-old, Kantzler has already served 30 years, which was not Lippitt’s intent at the time of sentencing. He conveyed that message to the Parole Board when he went to her 2015 hearing and again at her Public Hearing at Jackson State Prison on October 12, 2017.

Scott Rothermel, the Assistant Attorney General for the state of Michigan, questioned Karen Kantzler about the night of the tragedy, then later objected to releasing her from prison.  He will not be a part of the 10-member Parole Board voting on whether or not to release her from prison.

JTS photo of Barry Howard (left) and Norman Lippitt prior to the Public Hearing for Karen Kantzler at Jackson State Prison on October 12, 2017.  

Letters of support for Karen Kantzler can be sent to:  Michael Eagen, Parole Board Chairperson, PO Box 30003, Lansing, MI  48909

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