JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Ray Dean Pleasant pleaded guilty to murdering his estranged wife in 2003 in what an investigator described as a “gruesome” scene.

The now 61-year-old could be released from prison five years early, according to the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles, with a hearing set for January 3.

41-year-old Kimberly Britton Pleasant was found beaten to death in her home on July 23, 2002, according to reports. At the time, she had been granted a protection order against her husband.

Ray Dean Pleasant (Alabama Dept. of Corrections)

Ray Pleasant turned himself in at the Stevenson Police Department.

He initially entered a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease, but would later plead guilty and be sentenced to 25 years in state prison.

Kimberly Pleasant’s family said the two had only been married for a couple of months before her murder, and have strongly urged the parole board not to release Ray every time he has been eligible for parole.

Ray Pleasant has served just over 20 years at the Bullock Correctional Facility in Bullock County, Alabama.