NATICK, MASS. (WHDH) - A man convicted of murdering his girlfriend in 1981 pleaded to be released from prison at a parole hearing on Tuesday.

George Christopher MacNeill was 16 years old when he lured 15-year-old Bonnie Sue Mitchell to a bathroom at Lynn’s Pine Grove Cemetery, strangled her to death with a rope, and left her tied to the toilet.

MacNeill was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life behind bars without parole.

Now, a change in state law allows people convicted as teenagers a chance to regain their freedom.

MacNeill went before the parole board and said a conflict between his former girlfriend Bonnie and then-girlfriend Tracy was the reason he committed the crime.

“Bonnie had threatened to beat her up and she knew she was pregnant and she was gonna kick her in the stomach and make sure she lost the baby,” MacNeill told the parole board.

When pressed on the details, MacNeill said he has a “hard time remembering a lot of stuff.”

Bonnie’s family filled two rows at the hearing and spoke on her behalf.

“It’s not something you forget,” Linda Grant, Bonnie’s niece, said. “How do you forget strangling someone with your two bare hands?”

Another niece of Bonnie asked the board to keep MacNeill in prison.

“Just keep him where he belongs, in prison for the rest of his life, until the day he dies,” May Hitaj said.

MacNeill’s stepfather went to support him at the hearing.

“I’ve seen people get rehabilitated that I wouldn’t think could be,” Gary Boley said. “I’ve never given up on Chris.”

A parole board of six will decide whether or not MacNeill stays in prison. They do not have a deadline but it typically takes several months to reach a decision.

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