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'Fugitive soccer mom' attends protest, advocates for inmate

Posted at 6:07 PM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 22:28:58-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Amid the recent protests, a woman once known as the "fugitive soccer mom" is now shining a spotlight on the story of another mother.

Among those taking a stand against racial injustice is a small group holding up signs supporting a woman you likely haven't heard about.

"It serves no purpose to have her in prison," said Susan LeFevre.

LeFevre, one of the women holding a sign, is someone you likely have heard of. For more than three decades, the Carmel Valley mother of three had lived a double life, as Marie Walsh.

At the age of 19, she was sentenced to 10 to 20 years for a heroin sale in Michigan. Fourteen months later, she climbed a prison fence and began a new life. A police tip led to her arrest and a tidal wave of publicity. More than a year later, she was released from a Michigan prison.

"I feel bad about the effect on my whole family. We're doing better the last couple of years," said LeFevre.

LeFevre says so many years later, her family is still healing. She and her husband divorced several years ago.

Since her release, LeFevre, who now lives in Pacific Beach, has advocated for non-violent offenders with long sentences, including a woman she bonded with during the second prison stay: Tracy Cowan, a single mother of three who was sentenced to 20 to 40 years after shes says a bag of drugs belonging to her boyfriend dealer was found in her basement. Cowan has served 18 years.

"Racism is putting people like Tracy (in prison), ripping her from her children, two of them ended up homeless," said LeFevre.

LeFevre says Cowan didn't have the resources to defend herself, a familiar reason for the disproportionate prison rates for African Americans.

"Eighteen years is absurd when murderers are getting out before her. That's why I'm trying to bring attention to cases like hers. She doesn't belong in prison," said LeFevre.

Cowan is scheduled for her first parole hearing in 2023.

If you'd like to learn more information about Cowan's case, email