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Schenectady child killer Tinning again denied parole

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Schenectady child killer Tinning again denied parole

A state parole board has again denied convicted child killer Marybeth Tinning’s release, finding she
Schenectady child killer Tinning again denied parole
Marybeth Tinning is escorted from Schenectady County Court during her trial by Gordon Pollard.

A state parole board has again denied convicted child killer Marybeth Tinning’s release, finding she continues to demonstrate no insight into her crime, the decision released on Monday said.

The board ordered her held for another two years.

In last week’s parole appearance, Tinning again admitted to killing her 4-month-old daughter Tami Lynne in 1985, but offered no reason why she did so. “I want to be able to say, but there is no reason,” Tinning, now 72, told the board last week.

“I can’t sit here and tell a story just to say something. I just — I just — I just don’t know how anyone could do such a thing. I just don’t understand.”

Tinning’s case and 1987 trial were closely watched both locally and nationwide because Tinning was suspected of killing eight of her nine children over a 14-year period from 1972 to 1985.

Tinning was indicted in three of the deaths, but tried only in Tami Lynne’s death. One of the children she was suspected of killing was adopted.

Prosecutors believed Tinning suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental disorder in which a caregiver describes false symptoms or causes them in children to draw attention or sympathy to the caregiver. Tinning’s backers have argued there was no evidence of that.

Last week’s parole hearing was the fourth straight in which Tinning admitted to killing Tami Lynne. She denied it at her first parole appearance in 2007. It was also the latest parole hearing in which she denied killing any of her other children.

When asked if she continued to deny harming any of the others, she replied, “Yes, sir, I am. I did not. I did not harm any of the other children at all.”

The parole board found there “is a reasonable probability” that she would violate the law if released. They also found her release would negatively affect society and depreciate the seriousness of her crime.

Her trial attorney, Paul Callahan, as well as her husband, Joseph Tinning, both expressed disappointment Monday.

Callahan said a risk assessment cited by the parole board appears to be at odds with its decision.

Her overall risk in 2013 was low. That continued to be the case last week. Not only was her risk low, a commissioner said in her most recent transcript, “but the lowest of the low.”

“If the professionals are saying that she has a low risk and [the parole board] is saying she has a high risk, where is that coming from?” Callahan said.

Joseph Tinning has stood by his wife throughout.

“I’m very disappointed because I thought we had a very good case,” he said Monday. “I thought maybe she could get released, but I guess not.

“I think we addressed one of the issues they had, basically her threat to society,” he said, “but it just wasn’t good enough.”

The parole board said it took the assessment into account, but also noted her lack of insight into her crime in denying her release.

Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney on Monday said that lack of insight continues to show, even at 72 years old, that she still poses a threat.

“If she’s lacking any insight or willingness to talk about why she did what she did, it’s hard to measure what her risk is,” Carney said.

Tinning told the board that she is “beyond sorry.” She also said she believes her punishment is still coming after she dies.

“I just believe that when I come face to face with the Lord, he has more punishment, I’m sure. I’m sure.”

Gazette reporter Bill Buell contributed to this article.

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