A transgender Virginia prisoner, seeking sex change surgery paid for by the state, has been granted parole. It's a major development happening in the middle of a controversial, landmark case.
Ophelia De'Lonta, born Michael Stokes, is being paroled after serving more than three decades behind bars for bank robbery.
Last year, a U.S. District Court judge ordered the Virginia Department of Corrections to have De'Lonta examined by a 'gender specialist'. News of her parole comes before the court gets a chance to rule whether the surgery is medically necessary.
Ophelia De'Lonta had a parole hearing back on November 18, she said in a phone interview in December. NBC12 spoke with her niece by phone on Wednesday.
Tiffany Stokes says the family is "overjoyed because no one in the family thought they would be living, when she walked free."
Ophelia De'Lonta was granted permission to leave prison as a reward for good behavior after serving more than three decades of a 73-year prison sentence. In a recent interview, NBC12 asked her if she was angry, considering her long fight with Virginia D.O.C. for sex-reassignment surgery.
"Getting angry is like me drinking poison and expecting them to die...That's just negative energy that I would have to endure. So, I try not to hold on to negative energy," Ophelia said.
Recently, a U.S. District judge ordered two evaluations for surgery...one paid for by Ophelia and the other by the state. NBC12 has learned that the transgender inmate has had both and the results of those examinations are believed to sealed, right now.
In that phone interview, Ophelia talked about the possibility of being paroled and the impact it may have on her fight for a state-funded sex change surgery.
"If I'm still an inmate in the Department of Corrections, they would still have to provide that surgery," she said.
Will Ophelia De'Lonta have to pay for her own surgery on the outside? Was this a strategic move by D.O.C. to avoid a possible court ruling ordering the surgery? These are all questions we're working to get answered.
The state has maintained her attempts at self-castration are because of a borderline personality disorder. Meantime, Ophelia De'Lonta has been granted parole, but she's still incarcerated at Buckingham Correctional Center. Her family is working to get her connected to a support system on the outside.
Friday, April 18 2014 4:18 PM EDT2014-04-18 20:18:40 GMT
Police have released the identity of a man found dead behind the Harley-Davidson shop on Washington Highway in Hanover County. Police say the victim is Mark Burns, 55, of West Fillmore Street in Petersburg.More >>
Police have released the identity of a man found dead behind the Harley-Davidson shop on Washington Highway in Hanover County.More >>
Friday, April 18 2014 10:38 AM EDT2014-04-18 14:38:05 GMT
A Henrico homeowner was prepared to defend herself when a man claiming to be selling security systems showed up on her Hermitage Road porch after dark! She says the door to door salesman claimed to representMore >>
A Henrico homeowner was prepared to defend herself when a man claiming to be selling security systems showed up on her Hermitage Road porch after dark!More >>
Friday, April 18 2014 1:01 PM EDT2014-04-18 17:01:39 GMT
Bus service in downtown Richmond is set to expand, with GRTC Transit System set to open a new transfer plaza this Sunday, April 20, 2014. GRTC officials said the new transfer plaza, along 9th and LeighMore >>
Bus service in downtown Richmond is set to expand, with GRTC Transit System set to open a new transfer plaza this Sunday.More >>
Friday, April 18 2014 3:59 PM EDT2014-04-18 19:59:13 GMT
The father of a teen found dead near the Defense Suppy Center in Chesterfield says she died from blunt force trauma to the torso. 18-year-old Alyna Davis was found under the Dundas Road overpass aroundMore >>
The father of a teen found dead near the Defense Suppy Center in Chesterfield says she died from blunt force trauma to the torso.More >>
He was once a stranger to Anna Majure -- just a man behind her in the drive-through at a local fast food restaurant on Forest Drive. But in a split second, Clark McCarthy went from stranger to savior.More >>