By: Brittany Paris
Antonio Laravie, 55, walked into a hearing room on Wednesday as an inmate and left as a free man.
In a split decision, the state's Parole Board says Laravie is ready to reenter society.
"In terms of who I was when I was 15 years old and who I am now at age 55, it's a vast, vast difference," Laravie said.
Back in 1973, Laravie, a teenager, broke into the Wilson's home in Niobrara in northeast Nebraska.
He'd been drinking and grabbed a knife from the kitchen. He walked into 2-year-old Chad Wilson's room and stabbed him to death.
Chad's mom, Denise, says the attack was random.
She was at the hearing to ask the board to keep her son's killer behind bars.
"Antonio Laravie was responsible for my son's death," she said. "I'm asking you to consider the fact that Mr. Laravie committed a heinous crime."
But Laravie had supporters at the hearing, his mom and a friend.
"I've seen a mellowing and a wisdom, a maturing in him," the friend said.
"I'm just here to support my son," Laravie's mom said.
Before Wednesday's hearing, Laravie had been paroled at least twice, once in the late 80s and again in the early 90s.
But he was sent back each time for alcohol and drug violations, and for disobeying travel restrictions.
The board asked why this time would be different.
"I take complete responsibility for my actions," Laravie said.
"How do you feel today? Right now," James Pearson, Vice Chair of the Board, asked.
"Sad for Chad's family," Laravie said.
The board deliberated for more than 30 minutes.
The decision was split, 3 members for Laravie's parole, two against.
He's completed multiple drug and alcohol programs to show he's trying to improve himself.
But those two opposing members say they had a hard time overlooking the 80-plus letters of opposition.
The board told Laravie they better not see him back in prison because he will be there for a long time. Laravie assured them he won't.
His parole officially began on Wednesday, but there are stipulations.
He has to attend an AA and substance abuse program, he'll have electric monitoring, and can't contact the Wilson family.