As if grieving her daughter Chelsea’s death wasn’t enough, Petti said she had to deal with the threat of Jones getting out on parole much sooner than she would have ever thought possible.
"As time went on, especially after the trial [in Feb. 1984], the first time she came up for parole was in August of that same year. I was so shocked. We just got through a trial. Because of what was in place for the days she was getting for the time she was there, it made it like she's been in there for two years, so it was time for her to be up for parole. That's when I realized there was no way that I could get the word out by myself. That's when I realized that the media would be helpful.
At that time, it was just a matter of parole. I didn't even know about the mandatory release. It was getting people to write letters to the parole board and to try to keep her from getting out. The 99 years meant nothing.
After that, she would come up with parole of two years. At first, it was still hard. I still was very emotional, and I couldn't hardly get through an interview without having a meltdown or having to stop.
You go through those seven steps of grieving. I got to the part where I was just damn mad. That's when I was able to say, 'Wait a minute.' It just became what I have to do in life. I cannot let her out to hurt another baby," she said.
Petti first caught wind of the possibility that Jones was eligible for early release when she went to the Texas State Capitol several years ago. She said she was there to testify in front of the state legislature for a separate issue involving inmates making money while incarcerated.
“I had been asked to come testify because a lot of the prisoners that were in jail, not just her, were making thousands of dollars off art, or this or that. Rodney Ellis, who was a representative at the time, wrote a bill to try to keep them from being able to do that, any of them, not just her. They asked me if I would come testify and use her case as one of the examples.
After I got through testifying, some of them were coming up to me congratulating me and telling me that I did a good job. Then one of them came up. I couldn't even tell you who it was, but he said, 'When did she get convicted?' ...He left, and I didn't think anything about it. He came back and said, 'We have a problem. She's underneath the mandatory release umbrella.’ Everybody quit breathing but me because I had no idea what the mandatory release umbrella was. They explained it, and I just looked at them like, ‘Well, that doesn't mean [Jones],’” Petti said.