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‘Internet black widow’ to be released from prison

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TORONTO, Canada -- The woman known as the “Internet black widow” will soon be released from a Canadian prison.

But before Melissa Ann Shepard is released, officials want to make sure she doesn't pose a further risk to vulnerable elderly men by imposing certain limits.

Shepard has a history of poisoning and assaulting her male partners.

Officials want to restrict her access to drugs and want to make her report all relationships she has with men by imposing what's called a protective peace bond.

Prosecutor James Giacomantonio said they are imposing these limits because authorities still consider her a “significant risk to the public.”

“It’s just important for us to keep our eye on high-risk offenders like Ms. Shepard so that the public is protected,” Giacomantonio said. “We believe that she poses a risk going forward to the particular group of elderly males that she has preyed on in the past. As a result, we're putting her on those conditions."

Shepard served her full three-and-a-half year sentence for poisoning her husband.

The parole board rejected her bids for early release saying she was still a high risk.

She has a manslaughter conviction for driving over another husband and she spent five years in an American prison for stealing from yet another partner.

Authorities hope to use a section of the criminal code that would allow them to impose conditions on Shepard's freedom for the next two years through a peace bond.

Giacomantonio said the measure is rarely used.

“There are probably between 10 and 20 high-risk offenders that are on peace bonds in Nova Scotia right now. So we use our discretion,” Giacomantonio said. “We try to be fair with our discretion, so we believe someone like Ms. Shepard is a good candidate for this sort of order."

Shepard is not agreeing to the two-year peace bond proposal.

Her lawyer, Mark Knox, said there's at least one condition he's still negotiating.

In order to get out of prison this Friday, Shepard has agreed to a temporary recognizance until she returns to court next month. At that time, she'll either accept the peace bond proposal or they'll set a hearing to fight over the matter.