- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - An Indiana man who robbed and killed a cab driver when he was 18 years old has been released after spending more than two decades in prison.

Russell Andis, 39, was released from the Monroe County Jail on Thursday morning, the (Bloomington) Herald Times (http://bit.ly/1V9BBDa ) reported. A sheriff’s deputy then drove him to the Vigo County Work Release Center in Terre Haute.

In 1994, Andis fatally shot Bloomington cab driver Paul Lane in the head and stole his wallet.

Monroe Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Todd decided to let Andis walk free three years before his scheduled prison release after learning that he had turned his life of crime around and has a positive future ahead.

While in prison, Andis succumbed to prison culture, becoming a gang member and troublemaker, but he was able to change his ways with help from his supporters, Todd said.

“The defendant testified that, for some years of his imprisonment, he adapted to and became part of the negative and sometimes violent prison environment, suffering injuries to himself, doing what he thought he needed to do to protect himself and survive and accumulating a number of conduct violations over several years,” Todd wrote in a sentence modification order.

But Andis testified that in 2010 he “experienced a change of attitude, lifestyle and priorities,” prompting him “to embark on a course of rehabilitation, self-improvement and personal growth,” the judge said.

Andis earned his GED and an associate’s degree in business administration, and completed a series of vocational classes to prepare for employment once he was released from prison. Prison records for Andis show he hasn’t had any conduct violations in prison over the past four years.

The sincere remorse Andis has shown for killing Lane also weighed heavily on the judge’s decision to support his early release, Todd said.

Todd, Monroe County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Bob Miller and Andis’ attorney agreed on a transition-from-prison plan for Andis.

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Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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