Florida Prison 'Houdini' DeFriest Case To Be Heard Before Full Parole Board

Nov 19, 2014

Barbie Hingle, step-sister of Mark DeFriest and Gabriel London, director of "The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest"
Credit LHatter / WFSU News

Florida prison inmate Mark DeFriest, the subject of a documentary, will get a hearing before the full group formerly known as the Florida Parole Commission in December.

DeFriest’s supporters say he has a mental illness and most of his time behind bars has been because of behaviors caused by that illness. At a meeting Wednesday, DeFriest’s step-sister Barbie Hingle says she is pleased the Florida Commission on Offender review has decided to further consider the case.

"This is the first parole hearing I’ve been to, but I’ve seen the ones on the film. I didn’t come into this feeling very positive, but I feel much more positive today," she says.

DeFriest was convicted of stealing tools willed to him by his father as the will was being contested. He received a life sentence that was later reduced after he was charged with attempted murder during one of his more than a dozen jail breaks. DeFriest is currently at an out-of-state prison because he witnessed four corrections officers who were accused, but never convicted, of killing another inmate.