But Cassie Johnson is no ordinary killer: Her victim was a police officer, her conviction, murder in the first degree.
And some are determined she will never go free, as Correspondent Thalia Assuras reports.
They are two women, with such a startling resemblance they could be mistaken for sisters, and they share a decades-long tragedy.
Cassie Johnson is a cop killer.
"Today, I stand a new creature. That other person has passed away. She no longer lives," says Johnson.
Her victim was Raleigh, N.C., police officer D.D. "Jimmy" Adams. He was the father of two boys, and Sandra Adams' high school sweetheart and husband. She delcares, "I'm not really concerned about how she may have changed, how she may have furthered her education, etc. She killed my husband."
It all started on a winter night 20 years ago, when officer Adams pulled over a pickup truck into a parking lot. At the wheel was a drunk Cassie Johnson. Apparently, the patrolman didn't search Johnson when he arrested her and put her in the back seat of his patrol car. Moments later, he was shot point blank in the back of the head.
"I remember having the gun in my hand and remember hearing the shot," says Johnson.
Johnson, then 29 years old and the single mother of three, was sentenced to life in prison. She has been a model inmate, has finished high school and holds a regular job. In her first interview, she said that time and her faith have changed her.
"I stand today with much remorse in my heart for the victim's family," she says.
She deserves a second chance at life, freedom, she says.
"I can never put back what I've taken, but I have a lot to offer people out there who are walking in my same shoes," she says.
But Sandra Adams, now Sandra Lipshutz, isn't buying it.
"The sentence is life. I want her to serve life," Lipshutz argues.
She's collected petitions, with help from the police community, to fight Johnson's parole.
"We as a family do not feel like that there is a fairness for her to be able to do the things that normal adults do, see family, have Christmas holidays, etc., and we can't," Lipshutz says.
She had not seen her husband's killer for 20 years until CBS News showed her its interview with Johnson.
"You can tell her that her prayer has not been answered because the pain has not gone away," says Lipshutz.
The question is will North Carolina's parole board change its mind and give one woman her freedom, while for another it would be something else to mourn.