Twenty years ago, Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle were strangers, in prison an ocean apart, each having successfully gotten off of death row. Fast forward to November 13, 2011 and they cemented their unusual bond with vows and a kiss.
Jacobs, whose real name is Sonia, was 28 years old in 1976 when she and her second husband, Jesse Tafero, were involved in a roadside police shootout in Florida. Jacobs, her husband and their friend were charged with murder.
Jacobs and Tafero were later sentenced to death, though she maintained that they were unwittingly involved in the melee. Tafero was put to death in 1990, nine years after Jacobs successfully changed her sentence from death to life in prison.
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Pringle was a divorced 41-year-old father of four in 1980 when he was accused of being one of three men who had murdered two police officers in following a bank robbery in Ireland.
He was sentenced to be hanged until his lawyers won a stay of execution before Ireland’s president commuted the sentence to 40 years without parole in 1981. Pringle decided to serve as his own counsel and won his own release in May 1995.
The couple were introduced in 1998 after Jacobs told her story at an Amnesty International event in Galway, Ireland. Pringle was taken with Jacobs’ account and they remained close after she returned to the U.S. They began dating six months later and Jacobs soon moved to Ireland to live with Pringle.
Now, bonded by their shared experiences and vision for the future, Jacobs and Pringle speak at schools, churches and other places around the world on human rights and abolishing the death penalty when they’re not enjoying their simple life in a seaside Irish cottage.
Their wedding, which took place in Manhattan, was attended by Brooke Shields, Marlo Thomas and Amy Irving, all of whom have portrayed Jacobs in adaptations of her story.
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