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Freedom Now

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It started with a media roar but now seems to be ending, mercifully, with a whisper. In 1992, 17-year-old Amy Fisher of Merrick, N.Y., who had been having an affair with auto-body-shop owner Joey Buttafuoco, made her mark in the world by going to his home and shooting his wife, Mary Jo, in the head. Mary Jo, who suffered permanent nerve damage and still has a bullet lodged in her neck, later described Fisher as a “sick girl” and a “prostitute” and two years ago urged a parole board not to release the young woman, who had been sentenced to as much as 15 years in prison. But last December, Fisher, now 24, wrote Mary Jo apologizing; after an exchange of letters, Buttafuoco, a religious woman, accepted. So it was that last month Fisher was given the opportunity to tell a New York court that she alone was responsible for all the wrong she had wrought. Mary Jo, now 44, added her own plea for leniency as she told Amy, “I pray you will…make something positive out of all this tragedy.”

With Mary Jo on board, Judge Ira Wexner reduced Fisher’s sentence to a maximum of 10½ years, making her immediately eligible for release. On May 4 she appeared before the parole board, which had the power to free her in a matter of days. In any event, with time off for good behavior, she cannot be held beyond August. It is not clear what Fisher, who has been taking a business course behind bars and was elected last year by her fellow inmates to be their representative to prison authorities, plans to do once she is out, though she may be able to make some money on a book deal. One person Fisher is not likely to be socializing with is Joey, 43, who, with Mary Jo, now lives in West Hills, Calif., where he still works in the auto-body-shop business. He also does some acting and is slated to appear in a movie called The Underground Comedy, due out soon.

Fisher’s mother, Rose, has no doubt that Amy now has her impulses under control. “She is a very hard worker,” Rose recently told PEOPLE, “and when she sets her mind to something, she will do it.”