RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Roughly eight years after the death of Rusty Mack outside his Colonial Heights apartment, the only individual to serve jail time for his murder is looking at an early release from incarceration.

Margaret Blair Dacey, 26, who was a teenager at the time of the incident, was sentenced in 2014 to 20 years behind bars. According to the Department of Corrections’ website, she is set to be released on Nov. 13, 2031.

“Margaret Blair Dacey submitted a petition for a conditional pardon, which has been under review since it was received earlier this year,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson said in a statement sent to 8News. “Governor Northam has reviewed the pardon petition submitted by Margaret Blair Dacey and decided to grant a conditional pardon. This pardon is conditioned on numerous factors, including Ms. Dacey completing reentry programming prior to her release, as well as serving on supervised probation for three years.”

8News sat down with Sen. Joe Morrissey (D-Va.), whose office has been working with Dacey, free of charge, for the past seven years. Morrissey was originally the defense attorney for a different defendant charged in Mack’s killing. The charges for that client were dismissed.

“When Blair was convicted and I found out about that, I was truly as shocked as anything I’ve ever seen,” he said. “She went over there to help another girlfriend, was being nothing but a good friend, and things went south for her.”

According to Morrissey’s description of what happened the night Mack was killed, Dacey was one of four individuals involved in a fight outside of Mack’s apartment.

“She did the same thing, kicked him back, and he fell down and hit his head,” Morrissey explained.

However, the senator maintains that Dacey is not guilty.

In 2014, she was convicted of second-degree murder and assault and battery.

“She is not guilty of murder,” Morrissey said. “She received a sentence that was so far above what was a fair sentence that it would simply shock the conscience.”

Although Mack’s family declined to speak with 8News on camera, his father, Mike, told 8News Reporter Olivia Jaquith that he felt defeated by the news that Dacey would be released from incarceration early, especially after all the family had been through.

“Blair did not deserve seven years. Their son did not deserve to die. But it’s two separate issues,” Morrissey said. “My heart goes out to them because they lost a child. That is unfathomable.”

8News’ legal analyst Russ Stone said that there are three types of pardons that can be issued in Virginia, with a conditional pardon being very rare.

“It’s not a statement that you didn’t do it,” he said. “It’s just a statement that we’re going to shorten your sentence, and a condition of that shortening of your sentence is that you’re going to spend some time on probation and being supervised to make sure that you don’t go out and do something else.”

Morrissey told 8News that Dacey filed a petition for clemency earlier this year.

“I think the pardon has already been finalized,” he said. “Two of the conditions are that she participate in a re-entry program, and that she be on supervised probation. As soon as she completes that re-entry program, she will be released. I’m hopeful that’ll be before Christmas.”

However, speaking with 8News on Wednesday, Gov. Northam said that a number of pardons from his office have not been finalized.

“I believe in second chances, and so there are still some pardons that we are looking at, and we haven’t taken action on them yet,” he said. “But we will between now and January the 15th.”

According to Stone, there are several factors for consideration when determining whether someone will be granted a pardon. But ultimately, only the governor has the power to grant a conditional pardon, and not even an incoming governor could reverse that course.

“If the governor feels the person didn’t have a fair trial, they could issue a pardon of some kind,” Stone said. “If the governor feels that the person, while they were incarcerated — and I have seen this before — a person is so exemplary as an inmate — whether it’s taking every educational class they can take, not getting into any trouble inside, and still spending a substantial amount of time in prison — a governor could view that as being a sign that, ‘Hey, this person doesn’t need to spend the rest of their sentence behind bars.'”

Although Stone said that the Virginia Parole Board might weigh in on the discussion about whether to grant an individual a pardon, that office would not have a say in the matter. Likewise, Stone said that the family of the victim does not have any power over whether an inmate is pardoned.

“Personally, do I believe the governor should consult people in that kind of situation? Yeah, and I think most people would agree with that,” he said. “You ought to get their input. It doesn’t mean that they get to make the decision.”

Mack’s father told 8News on Thursday that he was only notified this week of the decision to grant Dacey a conditional pardon.

“Nothing can bring back Mr. Mack, and his family’s feeling of immense loss and the void left by the death of their son is unimaginable,” Thomasson said. “Ms. Dacey has served over seven years of her sentence of incarceration and has shown remorse and a commitment to public safety.”