Elderly bride-to-be awaits Florida fiancé’s parole after 32 years

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — An 82-year-old bride-to-be will finally have the chance for her big day when her fiance is released from prison next month, 32 years after they met.

The Tallahassee Democrat reports Wanda Pate hasn’t seen fiance David Monroe Goodwin in six years, but talks to him on the phone four times a week.

Goodwin has spent 40 years behind bars for his role in the murder of four people in Florida during a drug smuggling operation in 1977.

Goodwin was unloading marijuana on the beach when the four people accidentally happened upon the smuggling operation. One person was shot and killed on sight. The group’s ringleader, Walter Steinhorst, tied up the remaining three victims and drove them to a sinkhole, where they were executed.

At his trial, Goodwin said he and others in the group were afraid of Steinhorst, who threatened to kill Goodwin if he didn’t give him rope to tie up the victims. Goodwin was initially sentenced to death, even though he wasn’t in the vicinity of the killings. He later received a life term and is due to be paroled May 2.

Pate tells the newspaper she met Goodwin through her daughter, who is married to his younger brother. The two exchanged letters for two years before she drove to meet him at the prison.

“I knew he was in prison for life for three murders and that he wasn’t around when they happened,” Pate told the paper. “I never would have dreamed that I would have fell in love with somebody that was in prison. But it happened.”

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