Evergreen Woman Convicted of Murder Could be Released on Parole

Justine Winter must complete a pre-release program in Billings before being freed

By Justin Franz

An Evergreen woman convicted of deliberate homicide after killing two people in a 2009 car crash could be released on parole before the end of the year.

On Sept. 21, the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole granted Justine Winter, 22, parole upon completion of a pre-release program in Billings. According to board executive director Timothy Allred, Winter has been in the program since December 2014. She spent the first six months as an inmate worker and is now living at a pre-release center in Billings. At the pre-release center, Winter has been able to get a job and go into the public.

“(A pre-release center) helps people transition back into the community,” he said.

Now that the board has approved Winter’s eventual release, she will work with a case manager to create a plan for future housing and employment. A parole officer must approve the plan before she is released.

Winter was 16 years old in March 2009 when she got into a fight with her boyfriend and later that night deliberately drove her car across the centerline of U.S. Highway 93 north of Kalispell, crashing into another vehicle, driven by 35-year-old Erin Thompson, who was pregnant at the time. Thompson and her son, 13-year-old Caden Odell, were both killed in the crash. In February 2011, Winter was found guilty of two counts of deliberate homicide. She was later given two concurrent 30-year sentences with 15 years suspended on each.

Winter first applied for parole in 2014 but the board denied her request.