Out of prison: Woman who strangled partner to death freed

Cory James Protos was killed in Christchurch by his partner Zariah Samson. Photo: Supplied
Cory James Protos was killed in Christchurch by his partner Zariah Samson. Photo: Supplied
She wrapped a computer cord around her boyfriend's neck three times and strangled him to death after subjecting him to a violent attack that spanned four hours because she thought he was spreading rumours about her.

Now, after spending more than six years in prison, Zariah Jae Samson is free and living back in the community.

In May 2014, Cory James Protos, 30, was found dead at a Christchurch house.

Samson, then 22, was charged with his murder - but eventually pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter.'She was sentenced to six years and three months in prison - a term that was due to end on August 1.

However, after convincing the Parole Board she could be safely released early, Samson is now a free woman.

She walked out of prison on June 24 but will remain on strict conditions including GPS monitoring, a curfew for the first three months and other restrictions for the six that follow.

On April 26, 2014, Samson and Protos, originally from Ashburton, were at an address in Conference St, central Christchurch.

Samson accused Protos of spreading rumours about her and began to assault him.

She removed his bloodied clothing and bound his hands behind his back.

The injured man was then covered by a blanket and Samson punched and kicked him sporadically over the next four hours.

Samson then dressed Protos, guided him to a car and drove him to her house in Bryndwr in the city's western suburbs.

She allowed Protos to shower and when he met her in her bedroom the couple argued again.

Samson gave Protos a superficial cut to the neck, and then proceeded to strangle him with a computer cord, wrapped around his neck three times.

Just before 9pm, she texted an associate saying she was "cleaning up my mess".

She also requested cleaning products and petrol.

Samson went to a relative's house and told them what had happened.

The next day, the relative contacted the police.

Protos was the son of former Ashburton chimney sweep Jimmy Protos and his wife Gail.

The couple had relocated to Western Australia and were on holiday in Thailand when their son died.

Samson last appeared before the Parole Board in April and concerns were raised about her "recent decisions" in prison.

"The first was her entering into a relationship with an inmate who was recalled," Parole Board panel convenor Martha Coleman said.

"The second was that she had used methamphetamine.

"Those instances aside, Ms Samson was not able to be seriously considered for parole at the last hearing as she had yet to develop a robust release proposal."

Samson appeared again on June 4 and presented an updated release proposal.

"Ms Samson said today that she felt this was really the only time where she was ready for parole and asked for the board to consider a short period of time on parole," Coleman said in the board's decision released this week.

"She said that she had never really tried before but had in recent times.

"She said that she has been behaving very well. She has been thinking about the consequences of her actions and importantly since taking medication she is processing things better."

Samson told the board that since starting the medication her outlook was "very different".

"In addition to medication she puts her change down to the time she has been in prison," Coleman said.

"Now she says that she is focused on her release and on herself and her children. She is in regular phone and AVL contact with all three children."

Samson's principal Corrections' officer said she had been doing "very well" and the issues raised at her April hearing were "out of the ordinary for her".

Coleman said the board felt Samson could be released on parole - even though it was only a matter of two months before her sentenced ended and she would be freed
regardless.

"The board has decided that Ms Samson can be released to serve the short period of time remaining on her sentence in the community," Coleman said.

"She will be subject to standard and special conditions for six months past her statutory release date.

"The exception to this is a curfew which will remain in place for three months only."

Samson has been banned from entering a specific location to prevent her inadvertently running into members of Protos' family.

"That whereabouts condition will be GPS monitored," Coleman said.

"Another condition is that she does not possess or consume alcohol drugs.

"Ms Samson will also be subject to conditions that are designed to assist her with keeping her mental health stable."

Samson was released on June 24.

After the killer was jailed, Gail and Jimmy Protos revealed they had learned of their son's death via Facebook.

They were distraught that the original murder charge was downgraded to manslaughter.

"Our beautiful son is gone forever ... without even a chance to defend himself," Jimmy Protos said.

"We have come out of court here today with a life sentence of nightmares, pain and grief.

"We are disgusted with the justice system because our son never got any in that court room today.

"The justice system needs a major revamp because this is so wrong. What about getting rights back for victims?"

Their son was a talented sportsman and artist.

"Our son was not a bad person, loved his family, loved his friends and life," Jimmy said.

"He was loyal and always there to help a friend out in need, often putting his friends before himself."

Samson's parole conditions are:

• To reside at an approved address and not move from that address unless she has prior written approval from a probation officer.

• For the first three months after her release to be at her approved address between the hours of 10pm and 6am daily.

• To submit to electronic monitoring as directed and to provide unimpeded access to her approved residence by a probation officer and/or representatives of the monitoring
company.

• Not to enter locations defined by her probation officer.

• Not to have contact or otherwise associate, with any victim of her offending - including previous offending.

• To take any medication prescribed by a health professional and attend appointments with a mental health provider as directed.

• Not to possess, use, or consume alcohol, controlled drugs or psychoactive substances except controlled drugs prescribed by a health professional.

• To disclose to a probation officer, at the earliest opportunity, details of any intimate relationship which commences, resumes, or terminates.

• To attend an alcohol and drug assessment and complete any treatment or counselling as directed.

• To attend a psychological assessment and attend, participate in and complete any recommended treatment as directed.

• To attend a reintegration meeting as directed.

 

 

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