NATICK, MASS. (WHDH) - Shackled and surrounded by corrections officers, 44-year-old convicted killer Edward O’Brien appeared before the state parole board in Natick Tuesday hoping to be released after serving nearly 30 years behind bars. 

O’Brien was just 15-years-old when he was charged and later convicted of murdering his next-door neighbor, Janet Downing, in her Somerville home in 1995. 

A mother of four, Downing was stabbed 98 times. O’Brien, who was 6’4” and who weighed 260 pounds, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 1997. 

“I hope, after this hearing, this board will be comfortable allowing me back into society and rejoining my family and friends,” O’Brien said Tuesday. “I will not be a threat to any community. I plan on being a positive influence wherever I end up in life.”

Back in 2015, 7NEWS was the only station to sit down with O’Brien in prison where he continued to deny he was responsible for Downing’s death. 

“If you really look at the evidence, you’ll see the truth,” he said. 

“The truth is that I didn’t do anything,” he continued.

In 2013, Massachusetts’ highest court gave juveniles convicted of murder a chance for parole, leading to Tuesday’s hearing.

While O’Brien asked for his freedom, Downing’s family said he should remain behind bars. 

“None of our loved ones want to see him out,” said Downing’s son, Ryan Downing. “We feel our safety is in need if he is released. He has already killed my mom. There’s no telling what he could do.”

Approached by reporters, O’Brien’s attorney, Jack Cunha, declined to predict whether O’Brien would be released.

But he said his client is “a good guy.” 

“He should get out,” he said. 

Moving forward, the parole board is expected to make a final decision on O’Brien’s request in the next 60-90 days.

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