death penalty news---S.C., FLA., LA., OHIO, NEB., IDAHO, CALIF.
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Rick Halperin
2017-09-17 17:59:52 UTC
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Sept. 17


Years awaiting execution: 4 men with ties to T&D Region on death row

The date was July 14, 2004.

A Mercury Sable station wagon was stolen from a Lawrenceville, Virginia, auto
auction business.

The next night, on July 15, Mikal Deen Mahdi was caught on camera robbing an
Exxon gas station in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he fatally shot the
store clerk, 29-year-old Christopher Jason Boggs.

Then on the morning of July 18, Mahdi carjacked a Ford Expedition from a driver
in Columbia.

He then drove to Calhoun County, where he killed Orangeburg Department of
Public Safety Capt. James Myers that night. Mahdi set Myers' body on fire
inside a shed where the fugitive had been hiding.

Mahdi fled in Myers' white police-issued Dodge Ram.

An intensive law enforcement manhunt led to Mahdi's capture in Satellite Beach,
Florida, on July 21.

Mahdi pleaded guilty to the murder of Myers in December 2006 trial. After his
plea, his grandmother, Nancy Thomas Burwell, said, "His mother left him when he
was only 3 years old. I tried to help him as much as I could. If he'd had
someone to love and guide him as I tried to do, things might have turned out
differently. It's just hard to believe he did all those things.

"I'm not disputing it. It's just hard to believe," she said.

Mahdi, now 34, is on death row for killing Myers and Boggs. He pleaded guilty
to Boggs' murder in 2011.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Mahdi earlier this year
that his lawyer didn't do enough to present evidence of his troubled childhood.

"A motion to alter or amend is presently pending in Circuit Court in Calhoun
County," S.C. Attorney General's Office spokesman Robert Kittle said. "He is
also currently in federal habeas in the District Court. The federal action is
not stayed and filings are continuing."

Mahdi has been a challenging inmate, according to SCDOC records. He has made 2
escape attempts, the most recent in October 2014. He has also been cited for a
number of disciplinary infractions including assault and battery of a jail
employee, possession of a weapon and possession of escape tools.

Mahdi is 1 of 4 men with ties to The T&D Region who are currently on death row.

2 of the incidents occurred in Orangeburg County and 1 in Calhoun County. A 3rd
occurred in Dorchester County but involved a man from Branchville.

Bamberg County currently has no one on death row, according to the S.C.
Department of Corrections.

Status of executions

Executions and new death sentences have been declining in recent years in South
Carolina and the U.S. 20 inmates in f5 states were executed in 2016, the lowest
number since 1991, when 14 people were put to death.

The decline has been partially due to the uncertainty of the process, but also
because of the high costs associated with it.

South Carolina has not executed anyone since May 6, 2011, when Jeffrey Brian
Motts was put to death by lethal injection.

Motts was sentenced to death for killing his cellmate at a state prison in
Greenville County in 2005. He was already serving a life sentence for killing 2
elderly people during a Spartanburg County robbery in 1995.

The state's supply of lethal injection drugs expired shortly after Motts'

The state has been unable to obtain alternative drugs because pharmaceutical
companies that compounded them in the past have received a great deal of
outside pressure to end the practice.

Since then, the state has had no way of executing any of the inmates on death
row unless they choose to die by electrocution. As a result, execution dates
are not scheduled for any of the current death row inmates in South Carolina.

Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, who recently served on a five-member
subcommittee of the Senate Corrections and Penology Committee to discuss the
issue, says the matter has remained unresolved.

"We will wait for more direction from the department (DOC)," said Hutto, noting
the committee will reconvene in the coming legislative session to discuss the
issue. "It is not clear there is a magic law out there that will make
everything work."

Hutto said possible solutions could include going back to electrocution as the
only approved method, doing away with the death penalty totally and going to
life-without-parole sentences, or having the state contract with a private
company to compound lethal drugs.

"But that (the state compounding its own drugs) would be cost prohibitive and
run into the same problems major pharmaceutical companies have in that they
don't want the liability ... in the event the drugs malfunction and don't
work," the senator said.

Currently, there are 36 individuals on death row in South Carolina, according
to the state Department of Corrections.

Other death row inmates from the region, who are housed at Lieber Correctional
Institution in Ridgeville, are listed in chronological order according to the
date the crimes took place, along with a brief synopsis of each case.

Bayan Aleksey

Bayan Aleksey of Philadelphia was found guilty in August 1998 of shooting
Highway Patrol 1st Sgt. Frankie Lingard.

On Dec. 31, 1997, Lingard was patrolling Interstate 95 near Santee with
narcotics officer Deputy Lin Shirer of Calhoun County. It was around 11:30 p.m.
when Lingard pulled over a white Mustang GT with Delaware license plates.

At Aleksey's trial, prosecutors entered into evidence radio transmissions that
recorded Lingard's last moments alive.

"G8 Orangeburg ... I-95, 97-mile marker southbound ... white Ford Mustang ...
982722 ..." Lingard's words trail off to static and finally silence.

Seconds later, a terror-stricken Deputy Shirer screams into his handset,
"Orangeburg! Orangeburg 1033! Officer down, he's hit!"

According to the SCDOC, Aleksey has had no disciplinary infractions during his
incarceration nor has he had any escape attempts. He was admitted to Lieber on
Sept. 1, 1998.

Since Aleksey was given the death penalty in 1998, there has been a direct
appeal of his case to the South Carolina Supreme Court, which was denied. A
petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse that decision was also denied.

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Aleksey's petition for

"He has a federal habeas action in District Court," Kittle said. "The federal
action is presently stayed for Alexsey to seek a second state Post Conviction
Relief action. We have moved to dismiss the state action."

"However, there is a claim of intellectual disability (formerly mental
retardation)," he said. "The state Circuit Court has issued an order for an
evaluation by South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs. That
evaluation is presently being arranged."

Samuel L. Stokes

Stokes was sent to the S.C. Department of Corrections on Halloween Day 1999
after being found guilty on charges of murder, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy
and 1st-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The charges against the then 37-year-old Orangeburg man were levied after the
nearly nude body of Connie Snipes, 21, was found in Branchville in May 1998.
She had been shot twice in the head, and an autopsy showed she had been
sexually assaulted.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 refused to consider Stokes' appeal of the death

Stokes admitted to a role in the 1998 contract killing of Snipes. But he
appealed the results of his 1999 trial, noting the attorney who represented him
had also prosecuted him 7 years earlier.

The case is currently pending in U.S. District Court. An evidentiary hearing is
set for Nov. 13, 2017.

Should the federal district court refuse to hear Stokes' case, it would go up
to the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and then the U.S. Supreme Court, if

Stokes was admitted to Lieber on Oct. 1, 1999.

Since his entry into Lieber, Stokes has been cited for a number of disciplinary
infractions including using vulgar language and throwing a substance/object on
a government employee.

Marion (aka 'J.R.') Bowman Jr.

Bowman was found guilty of murder and arson in connection with Kandee Louise
Martin's death.

During his trial, witnesses testified Bowman shot Martin several times before
placing her body in the trunk of her car and setting the vehicle on fire.

Firefighters were called to a field off Nursery Road near Reevesville in
reference to a burning car report early on the morning of Feb. 17, 2001.

Martin's severely burned body was found in the trunk of the car with gunshot
wounds to her body and head. Investigators spoke to the victim's boyfriend, who
indicated that Martin was last seen riding around with Bowman the previous

It took approximately one hour and 55 minutes for jurors to decide on the death
penalty during Bowman's May 2002 trial.

Bowman was admitted to Lieber on May 23, 2002. He has not attempted to escape
but was disciplined for damaging property valued at over $100 in December 2016.

In 2005, the state Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's death penalty

In June 2006, the court denied Bowman's certiorari position, and in 2006,
Bowman filed for post conviction relief and was denied.

He has repeatedly argued through appeals that he didn't receive a fair trial,
alleging, among other things, that a search of his home that netted evidence in
the case wasn't warranted.

Bowman is currently on appeal from his initial state post-conviction-relief
action, Kittle said.

"Argument in the appeal was heard in the S.C. Supreme Court on April 13, 2017,"
Kittle said. "An opinion has not yet been issued."

(source: thetandd.com)


Amidst tragedy of Hurricane Irma, Death Row Prisoner Mike Lambrix Declares
Hunger Strike To Protest His Innocence

In an unprecedented move, Florida death row inmate Michael Lambrix has declared
a "hunger strike" to protest his scheduled execution (October 5, 2017)

Michael Lambrix has consistently maintained his innocence in a case that
remains essentially a highly circumstantial case (no eye witnesses, no physical
or forensic evidence, no confession). Despite the case receiving international
attention, his appeals for justice in courts have been defeated for over 30

The State funded agency CCRC South recently filed a strong and comprehensive
"habeas petition" in the Florida Supreme Court specifically arguing that he
must be allowed to present and be heard upon the wealth of evidence, including
DNA testing (see Lambrix v Jones, Case No SC17-1608)

Support in the US and around the world, as well as attorney Adam Tebrugge
strongly believe that should Michael Lambrix lose his appeal again, he should
then get a unique clemency hearing.

Mike Lambrix has said:

"I have been forced into a non-win situation in which the vast resources of the
State of Florida are being employed to put me to death for a crime I am
actually innocent of. I cannot stop anyone from executing me. But I am
constitutionally entitled to protest against this injustice by declaring and
maintaining a hunger strike as an expression of the free speech without
governmental intrusion."

Background information

Summary of the case, key prior media interviews, and general campaign
information: http://www.save-innocents.com/save-michael-lambrix.html

To access Mike Lambrix story and his life advice to others:
https://www.save-humanity.org For all detailed appellate actions filed in
Lambrix's case and more information: www.southerninjustice.net

(source: Contact-- Emmanuelle Purdon ***@mac.com )


Uptick in 1st-degree murder indictments in Jefferson Parish raises eyebrows

1st-degree murder charges were rare in Jefferson Parish for the past decade.
When they happened - just 3 times between 2006 and 2016 - prosecutors were
clear in each case about their intention to seek the death penalty, a
punishment that only a 1st-degree murder conviction makes possible.

But in the past 2 months alone, District Attorney Paul Connick Jr. has matched
that tally.

And in each of those 3 recent cases, Connick has either given no public
indication he will pursue capital punishment or, in the most recent example,
filed documents explicitly ruling it out.

In that case, 2 2nd-degree murder charges against Shaun Barnett, for allegedly
shooting a Kenner couple in their bed, were raised to 1st-degree murder in a
superseding indictment handed up Aug. 31.

That same day, prosecutors filed notice in 24th Judicial District Court that
the death penalty was off the table for Barnett, noting that as a result, they
will need only 10 jurors to get a conviction, not the 12 required in capital

Without the raft of special conditions imposed on capital prosecutions, the new
indictment appears to make little difference in the outcome for Barnett if he's
convicted. Whether found guilty of 1st- or 2nd-degree murder, he would face
life in prison without the possibility of parole - a fact that prompted some
head-scratching at the Gretna courthouse about the increased charges.

Connick's office, which is notoriously tight-lipped and has a policy of not
commenting on open cases, declined to discuss what was behind the move with
Barnett, or the wider uptick in 1st-degree murder indictments.

And it's still possible Connick's office could yet seek death in 1 or both of
the other 2 recent 1st-degree cases it filed - against Armande Tart in July and
Jatory Evans in August.

But some defense advocates say privately they think Connick could be turning to
first-degree murder charges to inoculate some cases against a mounting push by
advocates to allow parole eligibility to lifers convicted of 2nd-degree murder.

The Legislature is in the midst of a sweeping reform effort that could threaten
Louisiana's stiff "life means life" laws, which bar parole eligibility for all
convicted murderers in Louisiana, along with those convicted of aggravated rape
and aggravated kidnapping.

A state task force that issued recommendations early this year to the
Legislature suggested granting parole eligibility to inmates serving life
sentences who have "served 30 years behind bars and have reached the age of 50,
excluding those sentenced for `st-degree murder."

That recommendation was put on ice early in the process when proponents agreed
to table all proposed sentence reductions for violent crimes in a political
compromise with the state's powerful district attorneys.

Still, the reform legislation passed in the spring created a new task force to
address possible sentencing changes for serious crimes. And advocates have
warned if the state doesn't eventually address its rising number of
long-serving inmates convicted of violent crimes, taxpayers will be
increasingly burdened by a costly population of graying inmates who are
"stacking up" in the system.

The Jefferson Parish Public Defenders Office would not comment for this story.
State Public Defender Jay Dixon said he has noticed the uptick, but he "can't
separate it from the natural ebb and flow of 1st-degree murder cases."

E. Pete Adams, executive director of the Louisiana District Attorneys
Association, said he hasn't discussed such a pre-emptive strategy with Connick
or any other district attorney.

"But I will tell you, if you just follow the trend, it's just leniency,
leniency, leniency," Adams said of the recent direction of the Legislature.
"Every year we're having to face proposals to create parole eligibility for
virtually anyone."

Police often book suspected killers on 1st-degree murder counts, but it's the
district attorneys who decide what charges to recommend to a grand jury.

In Jefferson, that charge has for years been primarily second-degree murder,
which carries an automatic life sentence without benefit of parole, probation
or suspended sentence.

"Jefferson Parish historically has not sought 1st-degree murder charges without
the death penalty," said Richard Bourke, of the Louisiana Capital Assistance
Center, "but it's something that has happened regularly across the state."

Bourke said he couldn't speculate on what has prompted the apparent change. And
Connick's office could yet bring the death penalty in the Tart case, which
involves a quadrouple murder, and the Evans case, which involves the slaying of
a pregnant woman in her parents in a River Road home immediately set ablaze.

What's clear is that since 2007, 1st-degree murder has become a more viable
charging option for prosecutors who aren't pursuing the death penalty. That's
when state lawmakers dropped the unanimous jury requirement for 1st-degree
murder, keeping it in place only if prosecutors seek capital punishment.
1st-degree charges require at least 1 of a raft of aggravating circumstances -
that the murder was committed during a kidnapping, arson or rape, or if the
victim was a police officer, elderly or a witness, for example - that
prosecutors need to prove in court.

But 2nd-degree murder has been and remains a potent, reliable way to guarantee
those convicted will never set foot outside of prison for the rest of their
lives - at least for now.

When it comes to death penalty cases, meanwhile, court watchers say the 2
capital prosecutions Connick's office announced late last year - against
accused cop-killer Jerman Neveaux and 1 of the suspects in the gruesome
stabbing death of a Raising Cane's manager - don???t seem to reflect any new
trend toward the death penalty.

"There's been no significant increase in death-penalty prosecutions in
Jefferson Parish or across the entire state," Bourke said. "There is a clear
and steady decline in the use of the death penalty."

Although 10 people were sentenced to death during Connick's 1st term, from 1997
to 2003, capital prosecutions in the parish soon waned.

A capital murder prosecution against Isaiah Doyle, indicted for 1st-degree
murder in 2005, was the last death-penalty case - and last 1st-degree murder
indictment - against someone in Jefferson until 2013, when prosecutors sought
the death penalty against Matthew Flugence for the murder of 6-year-old
Ahlittia North. Flugence later pleaded guilty to the 1st-degree murder charge
in exchange for a life prison sentence.

In a rare interview in 2009, Connick told The Times-Picayune his office's
philosophy had evolved to reflect the reality of capital prosecutions, which he
said require the state, the defense and judges "have to do the perfect case" to
prevent them from being overturned.

But back then, he said his office would not shy away from seeking death in
instances where it was warranted.

"It has to be, in our opinion, the worst of the worst," Connick said. "The
facts of the case have to be heinous."

(source: The Advocate)


Inmate condemned in Ohio prison riot murders seeks review

A death row inmate convicted and sentenced in the slayings of 5 fellow inmates
during a 1993 prison riot in Ohio is appealing his case to the U.S. Supreme
Court on new grounds.

48-year-old Keith LaMar's latest legal push plays off the court's ruling last
year finding Florida's death penalty scheme unconstitutional, saying it gave
judges too much power and juries not enough to decide capital cases.

LaMar argues the Ohio Supreme Court must revisit his case in light of the new
standard, since Ohio's scheme is similar. The state has until Sept. 18 to

(source: WHIO news)


How notorious serial killer John Joubert's days of slaying children came to an

On Sept. 18, 1983, Danny Joe Eberle, 13, picked up his bundle of newspapers,
loaded it on his bicycle, and pedaled off on his route delivering the Sunday
Omaha World-Herald.

A few hours later, complaints started coming into the newspaper; the "sunrise
edition" was late. Only 3 homes along Danny's route in Bellevue, Neb., a quiet
Omaha suburb, had gotten their delivery.

Danny's father, Leonard, went out to search and found his son's bicycle, with
the papers, propped up against a fence near the start of his route. "He was
proud of that bike," Leonard Eberle told reporters - there was no way he would
have left it, at least not willingly.

3 days later, investigators found Danny's body, bound ankle and wrist, in a
wooded area near the Offutt Air Force Base. There were 8 stab wounds, as well
as slashes and human bite marks on his body, but no signs of sexual assault.

Serial killer who drove 'murder mobile' pleads guilty

The hunt for his killer was the most intense the region had ever seen. Local
troublemakers - sex offenders and pedophiles - were hauled in as possible
suspects, but quickly ruled out. A hypnotist was called to help witnesses
retrieve clear memories. A local bank offered a $40,000 reward for information.
FBI psychological profiler Robert Ressler provided an analysis of the killer -
white, young, and sexually ambivalent.

None of it led to anything in time to prevent another tragedy.

On Dec. 2, Christopher Paul Walden, 12, son of an Air Force officer stationed
at Offutt, vanished on his way to school. Hunters found his body on Dec. 5, his
throat slashed and body mutilated.

There were no breaks until January, when a church nursery school director
noticed a suspicious-looking character in a car hanging around near the school.

Serial killer spotted doing volunteer work for elementary school

As she wrote down his license plate number, he attacked, screaming he was going
to kill her. She managed to get away and reported the incident and the license
number to police.

The car was a rental that was traced to Air Force radar technician John
Joubert, 20, stationed at Offutt.

He fit the profile the FBI had conjured up for the murderer and resembled
composite sketches pulled from witness memories.

An unusual kind of rope, containing about 100 different fibers, was found among
his belongings. It matched the rope that had been used to bind Danny's hands
and feet. The rope had been manufactured in Korea, and was rarely used in the
United States.

Real estate serial killer pleads guilty to 7 murders

When detectives mentioned the rope to him, Joubert quickly confessed. He said
he was glad he had been caught because he was certain he would kill again,
Ressler wrote in "Whoever Fights Monsters: My 20 Years Tracking Serial Killers
for the FBI."

Joubert's life appeared to have been one long, simmering rage. He was born in
Lawrence, Mass., but moved with his mother to Portland, Maine, after his
parents divorced. He had an IQ of 123, was an Eagle Scout, and, like one his
victims, had a paper route.

Fantasies of violence and cannibalism erupted when he was very young. At just
6, around the time his parents' marriage unraveled, he said he had dreamed of
strangling his baby-sitter and eating her body. He would later say that these
horrific musings were provoked by seeing his father try to strangle his mother.

Violence did not remain trapped in his imagination for long. In December 1979,
he stabbed a 6-year-old girl with a pencil as he pedaled past her on his
bicycle. Similar attacks started happening in areas near Portland, but the
assailant was never caught.

Police had accused Phoenix serial killer's gun in 2015

After the Nebraska murders, investigators looked into unsolved cases in Maine.
One bore Joubert's signature. Ricky Stetson, 11, had gone out jogging on Aug.
22, 1982. He was later found stabbed in the chest. Like Danny, he had been
mutilated and bitten, but there was no sign of sexual molestation.

Joubert was tried for the Stetson killing and received a life sentence in
Maine. In Nebraska, he pleaded guilty to the 2 murders and got the death

During his confession, a detective asked him if he would kill again if he got
out of jail. "That's my big worry," Joubert said. "It's scaring me quite a bit,

For a dozen years on death row, Joubert pored over law texts, read Albert
Camus, Sigmund Freud, Ernest Hemingway and the works of other literary lights,
lifted weights, and learned to draw.

2 of his drawings depicted scenes of violence reminiscent of the murders. In
Mark Pettit's book, "A Need to Kill: The Death Row Drawings," the author said
he obtained copies of the artwork in 2014 and asked crime profilers for their
opinions. To them, the drawings suggested that Joubert would find his murderous
impulses impossible to resist, and would likely kill other kids.

As his execution date neared, Joubert insisted he was a changed man. He said he
had even found a first love, a woman in Ireland who had been corresponding with
him as a pen pal.

In his appeals, he argued that the electric chair was cruel and unusual
punishment. Capt. Jeff Davis of the Sarpy County Sheriff's department told the
Associated Press, "No matter what they do to him, nothing is going to take away
the horror and terror those children felt, let alone what their parents will go
through all their lives."

Pleas for clemency went to the U.S. Supreme Court, but in the end, Joubert kept
his date with the electric chair on July 17, 1996.

(source" nydailynews.com)


Jurors come, go for Renfro

More than 20 potential jurors have been selected to participate in voir dire,
the 2nd phase of the process to seat a jury in the Jonathan Renfro murder trial
scheduled to begin this month in Coeur d'Alene's First District Court.

The potential jurors were chosen before Friday afternoon from a panel of 100
jurors who appeared this week for orientation at the old Kootenai County
Courthouse at 501 Government Way.

The panel is the 1st of 10 panels making up more than 800 candidates called for
jury duty in the murder trial of Coeur d'Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore, which is
expected to last 3 weeks or more.

Renfro, 29, is accused of shooting Moore with a Glock pistol he had in his
pocket when the officer confronted him after dark in a neighborhood where
residents had reported burglaries and vandalism.

If he is convicted, Renfro could face the death penalty.

Attorneys hoped to select 44 candidates by early next week before continuing
the voir dire, which is the final interview phase. In voir dire, the number of
potential jurors is winnowed down to 16, including 12 jurors and 4 alternates,
said jury commissioner Pete Barnes.

In the trial's guilt phase, jurors must determine if Renfro pulled the trigger
on May 5, 2015, the night Moore died. In the penalty phase, jurors will decide
if the death penalty is warranted.

Many of the candidates from the first phase were released earlier this week,
opening the door for candidates from the 2nd panel to begin the selection
process. Candidates are questioned in front of fellow jury candidates, and

Jurors who voiced strongly held beliefs against, or in favor of, the death
penalty were released before the process began.

"They need a total of 44 jurors to participate in the voir dire process,"
Barnes said. "I heard they've got 25 right now."

Voir dire will likely begin by the middle of next week.

"No telling how long that takes," Barnes said. "They are making good progress
in selecting the final 44 jurors for the voir dire."

(source: cdapress.com)


Jury Rules 62-Year-Old Moreno Valley Woman Should Receive Death Penalty for
Killing Her Husband in 2009

A jury recommended a Moreno Valley woman be put to death for fatally shooting
her husband in 2009 after evidence was presented suggesting he was not the
first husband she had killed, officials said Friday.

Lorraine Alison Hunter, 62, was convicted of first-degree murder in the death
her truck driver husband, Albert Thomas, on Aug. 21, according to a statement
from the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.

At that time, the jury also found that she had killed Thomas for financial gain
and committed the crime while lying in wait.

Though she was prevented from collecting the money, prosecutors alleged that
Hunter was aware of more than $1 million available in life insurance policies
in Thomas' name in the event he was murdered.

In determining whether the 62-year-old should be given the death penalty,
jurors were shown evidence that another husband of hers was murdered in 1996 in
Inglewood. That time, it appears she collected around $312,000 in life
insurance funds, officials said.

No one was ever charged in that case.

Thomas was found shot to death in the sleeper section of the semitruck he drove
for work on Nov. 4, 2009. The vehicle was parked in a dirt lot near the
intersection of Eucalyptus and Edgemont avenues in Moreno Valley at the time,
officials said.

Though law enforcement interviewed Hunter in the immediate aftermath of the
discovery, she was not arrested until 2011.

Hunter originally testified she was not aware of any life insurance policies in
her husband's name, but investigators later determined she had already spoke to
the trucking company that employed him and learned of 2 policies totaling
$225,000 that would double if he were murdered.

"The administrator at the trucking company told detectives that Hunter, prior
to Thomas being found dead, had personally been told about the policies and
that they doubled in the case of a murder," DA's officials said in the press

A relative also provided further information that led to her arrest and helped
authorities bring charges in the killing, according to prosecutors.

Briuana Hunter, the defendant's daughter, testified under a plea deal that she
and her mother spent months plotting Thomas' death, according to the Riverside

"She told me, 'We need to figure something out," the 23-year-old told the
court, the newspaper reported. "She said that we needed the money. At first, I
didn't know what she meant, but later on, it became clear."

Detectives also learned that, in addition to the $450,000 available through
Thomas' job if he were murdered, Hunter forged her husband's signature in
attempt to secure another life insurance policy in the amount of $750,000 6
months before his killing.

However, her inability to obtain a certified copy of the death certificate
prevented her from collecting any of the money.

Hunter is expected to be sentenced on Dec. 8. The DA's office said it seeks to
sentence her to death in the case.

(source: KTLA news)
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