This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
An Ogden woman who has spent more than 20 years behind bars for killing her young daughter has been given a 2016 parole date.
Shelly Flemal, 44, will be released from prison on March 15, 2016, according to the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.
Flemal killed her 3-year-old daughter, Courtney Jo, in June 1994 by repeatedly hitting the child.
"My whole life was falling apart," Flemal recalled during a June parole hearing. "I wasn't handling anything very well. We were getting evicted. I had just gotten out of a relationship that was no good. I was angry and frustrated and I took it out on her ... I meant to hit her. I didn't mean to kill her."
Flemal pleaded guilty in 1995 to first-degree felony murder, and was given a five-years-to-life prison sentence. Prosecutors had agreed to recommend that the woman only serve six years for the crime, but the parole board has kept Flemal behind bars for more than 20 years.
After Courtney Jo died, the then-22-year-old Flemal initially told police that the child had been abducted from a local park. Several days later, the girl's body was found under a bush near the Ogden City Cemetery.
"I got scared," Flemal said, explaining her decision to hide the body and file a false report. "I didn't think anybody would believe me when I said it was an accident."
During the last two decades in prison, Flemal said she finished her high school degree, completed a number of programs at the prison and found a relationship with God.