BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Lynn DeJac Peters, who had been wrongfully convicted of killing her daughter Crystallyn Girard, has lost her battle with cancer.
She died after 1:30 a.m. Wednesday after cancer metastasized from her lungs. She was 50-years-old.
Lynn’s devoted husband Chuck Peters says she passed away quietly, moments after their twin 20-year-old sons Doug and Keith told her how much they loved her.
“She just kind of laid her head on one side and went to sleep,” he said.
Her passing ends a life filled with tragedy and redemption.
Lynn had maintained her innocence after being convicted in 1994 of killing her daughter. After serving 14 years in prison, new evidence indicated she had been wrongfully convicted.
“I never lost hope in the fact that God would make the right things happen,” she said on November 28, 2007, the night of her release when she was reunited with her husband and twin sons.
Speaking of new efforts to totally clear her name and determine who took her daughter’s life, she said, “I’m going to go in with the truth, that’s all I have, the truth. And hopefully this time the truth will set me free.”
New DNA evidence would link her former boyfriend, Dennis Donohue to the case. He is currently serving a 25 year-to-life term for the 1993 murder of Joan Giambra. However, Donohue had been granted immunity after Crystallyn’s death and cannot be tried in that case.
Throughout Lynn’s years of incarceration Chuck never stopped believing in her.
“The only thing I could do was to keep a family and a home together for her,” he said. “So when she did come here (home) we had something, and that was my job.”
But in 2013, just a month before Lynn received $2.7 million from the state for the wrongful conviction, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She put on a good face.
“Somehow I’m going to beat this,” she declared. “I’m going to be that one out of a hundred.”
Hours after Lynn’s death Chuck reflected on that terrible turn of events.
“After all the stuff she went through, and we finally saw a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel, she gets diagnosed with cancer.”
He said Lynn had faced her condition with this attitude and philosophy: “When she found out about the cancer she goes: ‘It’s a win-win. I could just stay here with you and the boys for as long as I can, and then when I die, I get to be with my daughter.'”
Chuck says he and Lynn always talked about Crystallyn and often visited her grave, until it became too difficult for Lynn to walk. Her weight had gone down to 80 pounds and she was forced to spend most of her last days in a bed in the family’s living room.
As her life was fading away Chuck said he and the boys told her how much they loved her. Lynn made Chuck promise he would follow through on plans to finish renovating their home.
Chuck said he is not bitter, but grateful for the time he had with Lynn.
“I had the opportunity to get back my love for seven years. We had seven very good years together, when I didn’t think we were going to have any.”
He made special mention of former Buffalo cold case detective Dennis Delano for all his work in getting Lynn out of prison and having her case revisited.
There is still a civil case pending in federal court. A jury will decide on the questions of liability and damages. The family’s attorney, Steve Cohen, said they will decide how the family might be compensated for 14 years of lost motherhood. The lawsuit is for $30 million.