Nightmares of murder haunted Bernice Brubaker's last days. As she lay dying, she tossed and turned murmuring about her daughter who was beaten to death with a metal pipe wrench.
"It made me sick beyond belief that she could not even have a peaceful death," Pat Brubaker told the Board of Pardons and Parole at a hearing for the man who killed his sister, Carol Mabe. "Nightmares and sleepless nights have become part of our lives."In the early hours of Dec. 5, 1990, Carol Mabe sat at work in front of her computer. Her husband, Gary, had come with her to work as they were also the janitors who cleaned before the other employees arrived.
Gary Mabe got a metal pipe wrench from his car and returned to his wife's office. He walked up behind her and hit her in the head with the wrench until he thought she was dead.
He took the wrench to his car, came back inside and threw her purse on the floor to make it look like a robbery. Then he noticed his wife was still alive. He went back to the car for the wrench and returned, beating her in the head until she was dead.
Four and a half years later, Gary Mabe told the chairman of the board of pardons, Mike Sibbett, that he still doesn't know why he did it.
"Anything I could offer at this point would sound like an excuse, and I won't make excuses," Mabe said Friday morning. "If I knew why I could do such a horrible thing, why wouldn't I tell?"
Mabe confessed to the murder one month later. Carol Mabe's family filled the board's hearing room and sobbed as Brubaker and Carol's son, Gary Wilder, pleaded with Sibbett to keep Mabe in prison for the rest of his life.
"We have to live with this picture (of our mother's murder) in our minds for the rest of our lives," Wilder said. "We have a life sentence; so should Gary Mabe have a life sentence.
"Please let us try to go on with our lives without the worry of him walking the streets," he said.
Mabe was sentenced to serve five years to life in prison, but the judge recommended Mabe never be paroled. Friday morning Mabe asked the board to honor the judge's wishes.
"I add my voice to the many others," he said, his voice wavering. "I strongly urge this board to keep me in prison for the rest of my life. I want to go on record as relinquishing any right I have to parole or early release . . . then maybe, with God's help, the healing can begin."
He wadded up the paper he was reading from as Sibbett told him he would recommend to the other board members that Mabe never be released from prison.
"My recommendation to the other board members will be that you serve natural life," Sibbett said. "This was such a brutal, horrible, senseless crime, and still we don't know why."
Officially, Sibbett took the decision under advisement and told Mabe he'd be notified by mail of the board's decision.