The health of the man who was convicted of kidnapping Heidi Allen from a New Haven convenience store is deteriorating.
Medical staff at the Coxsackie Correctional Facility have given Gary Thibodeau less than six months to live. The grim diagnosis comes as he waits for yet another appeal of the case that put him behind bars 23 years ago.
Thibodeau's lawyer Lisa Peebles says her client is currently living in the prison's medical residential unit suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that restricts airflow to the lungs.
"Over the course of the last several months, he’s had to be on oxygen 24/7," Peebles said. "He can’t be without it. He’s in a wheelchair because he cannot exert himself without losing his breath or coughing. His daily life is hard. He can’t really even use the bathroom or shower because it takes too much for him because, like I said, he’s slowly suffocating to death."
Peebles says the medical staff at Coxsackie will handle Thibodeau's request for medical parole, which would allow him to serve out his remaining time with relatives. She's focused on their appeal to New York state's highest court.
Peebles claims that new evidence has surfaced in the case since the original trial that could exonerate Thibodeau and identifies other suspects in Allen's disappearance. She says it warrants a new trial. But two lower courts have denied that request and even if it's granted, it could take a while to get a new trial.
"We’re working against the clock," she said. "So the odds are not in our favor. I'll say that."
Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oakes says he has spoken with Allen's father. He's still weighing whether he would fight Thibodeau's request if it goes before the parole board.
Allen was 18 when she was kidnapped on Easter morning in 1994. Her body was never found.