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Judge Hiller Zobel reduced the jury verdict from second-degree murder to manslaughter and sentenced Louise Woodward to time served -- 279 days. Each side will have 25 minutes to argue whether the judge over-reached his authority setting aside the jury verdict.
The jury verdict last Oct. 30 meant jurors believed Woodward intentionally killed Matthew Eappen by violently shaking him and then slamming his head against a hard, flat surface in February 1997. That verdict condemned her to serve at least 15 years in prison.
In an interview on British television Thursday, Woodward, 20, said she feared that the second-degree murder verdict would be reinstated and she might get "another couple of years" in jail.
"Everybody tells me not to worry, but I'm scared, you know," she said. "I'm scared of going back to jail."
"I don't deserve it and I'd be scared to go back ... I really want to go to school, and I don't want this to interrupt my life more than it has," Woodward said.
She hoped the appeal would conclude that the case was "ridiculous" and should never have gone to trial.
Said Woodward: "I just hope they won't reinstate the second degree. The most I hope for, I guess, is that they'll just leave it alone and let me go home."
The case sparked intense public interest both in the United States and Britain. Woodward is from the small English town of Elton, near Liverpool, and was 18 when Eappen died.
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