RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Margaret Blair Dacey was initially sentenced to 20 years in prison for the 2013 murder of Rusty Mack in Colonial Heights. Now, she might be close to being freed, seven years after she was put behind bars.

According to the Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson, Governor Ralph Northam has granted Dacey a conditional pardon.

State senator and disbarred attorney Joe Morrissey previously defended another woman charged in connection to Mack’s murder but began offering Dacey free legal aid after she was sent to prison. He said that Dacey was no more culpable than any of the other three people charged following Mack’s death.

Dacey’s three co-defendants did not serve any time. She was the only one sent to jail.

“I cannot think of anybody more deserving of a conditional pardon than Blair Dacey and that’s of all of our 26,000 people in our Department of Corrections,” Morrissey said.

In order for Dacey to be pardoned, she must follow certain guidelines including completing reentry programming prior to her release and a three-year supervised probation. Morrissey predicts that Dacey will be free before Christmas.

According to Thomasson, Dacey had petitioned for the pardon earlier in 2021. It was then reviewed by Northam. A statement about the decision said that the governor has the power to grant such pardons and Northam in particular has used that to give second chances to people who “served significant periods of time and demonstrated a commitment to rehabilitation.”

The Secretary of the Commonwealth said that throughout her sentence Dacey has expressed remorse and a commitment to public safety.

Morrissey described Dacey as the “poster child” for someone deserving of parole. During Dacey’s time in custody, Morrisey said she got her associate’s degree followed by a four-year degree. She also spent time working on a dog training program behind bars.

The release said that at the time of her trial, Dacey had been encouraged by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office to take a plea bargain for a lesser charge and shorter sentence but she declined, opting to not plead guilty.

In regards to the family of the man killed by Dacey, the secretary said, “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.”

This is a developing story, stay with 8News for updates.