Kelley Malone sat on the edge of her chair, elbows resting on the table in front of her. A box of tissues was to her left. One tissue, delicately folded up, was clutched in Malone’s hand, along with a carefully thought out script.
Two feet across from her sat two men taking notes. The two men belong to the Parole Review Board — the board that will decide whether to grant parole to the woman who was involved in killing Malone’s mother, Julie Rosenhamer, 30 years ago.
Rosenhamer and two other employees were preparing to close the Church’s Fried Chicken on North Broadway in 1983 when two women — Regina Baldwin and Yvonne Pink – came into the restaurant armed with guns. The two hopped the counter and ordered Rosenhamer to open the safe. An employee later testified that Rosenhamer put her hands on the counter and was shot as she was getting ready to turn around. The other employees were locked in the freezer. Baldwin and Pink fled with $118 in cash and a victim’s purse.
After a Crime Stoppers tip led to their arrest and conviction, the two were sentenced to life prison sentences and are serving their time at the Topeka Correctional Facility.
Baldwin is up for parole next month. Pink will be eligible next year.
Malone attended the review board’s public comment period in Kansas City on Monday and was in Wichita on Wednesday to voice her thoughts on Baldwin’s parole. The review board will be in Topeka on Friday for the same type of hearing. In August, they will meet with Baldwin and review their notes from the hearings. If Baldwin is granted parole, she can be released as early as September.
Malone was 3 years old when her mom was killed. For about 10 minutes, Malone spoke quietly with the review board.
“I can’t remember my mom’s voice,” Malone said at the hearing. “I can’t recall her touch, her warmth. I just wish I could have her.”
Joining Malone was her husband, John Malone; Rosenhamer’s sister, Janet Wilson; and Rosenhamer’s husband at the time, Ed Rosenhamer.
“She (Kelley Malone) didn’t have a say when it happened so this is her first opportunity to say something about what happened to her mother,” Wilson said. “This is her opportunity to do something.”
Baldwin’s family was also at the hearing Wednesday along with a former inmate with Baldwin and two ministers from Reach Out Ministries, a program that works with those in the Kansas Department of Corrections.
Carol Williams, who got to know Baldwin during her incarceration, said she thinks Baldwin is a completely different person than 30 years ago. Williams was incarcerated on drug-related charges and was released seven years ago. She has since completed college and is now an addiction counselor in Wichita.
“I know she’s not the same person now because of her (Baldwin’s) attitude toward the inmates and guards,” Jackson said. “She was always positive.”
Williams also said Baldwin has participated in just about every program available to her at the Department of Corrections. Baldwin has also worked various minimum-wage jobs while incarcerated, she said.
Eight people in all sat at the table to speak on Baldwin’s behalf. Each telling the two men why they’d like to see Baldwin released and that they would be there for Baldwin if she is paroled.
“There’s not a day that goes by that she does not regret her involvement,” said Stella Peebles, Baldwin’s sister-in-law. “She has definitely learned the value of life and freedom.”