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'33 And Counting' Spotlights Missouri Grandmother’s Fight For Clemency

A new documentary directed and produced by Aisha Sultan (at right) puts the case of Patty Prewitt (at left) in the spotlight.
Aisha Sultan

Seventy-year-old Patty Prewitt has been busy making masks lately — like many citizen seamstresses working to help combat COVID-19. Prewitt, though, is sewing them for staff at the women’s prison in Vandalia, Missouri, where she’s serving a life sentence for the 1984 murder of her husband, Bill.

In the three and a half decades since that stormy and violent night in Holden, Missouri, Prewitt has consistently maintained that she is innocent, and that her husband’s death came at the hands of an intruder who also raped her.

Prewitt’s case is receiving fresh attention thanks to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Aisha Sultan. She recently released the film “33 and Counting” through the newspaper’s website

The 38-minute documentary digs into the wildly contrasting accounts of the crime as well as what Prewitt and her children and grandchildren have endured — and been fighting for — since her 1985 conviction.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Sultan joined host Sarah Fenske to discuss Prewitt’s story and its particular urgency during a pandemic.

Sultan’s film notes that about 231,000 girls and women are currently incarcerated in the U.S., and 80% of them are mothers. Prewitt is the longest-serving female inmate in Missouri.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Evie was a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
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