A Missouri woman was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole on Aug. 12 for the 2016 slaying of mentally handicapped man in St. Charles County. The woman could have faced the death penalty if she had been convicted after a trial, but she avoided that fate by entering what is known as an Alford plea in 2017. When a defendant enters an Alford plea, they maintain their innocence but accept that prosecutors have enough evidence to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Prosecutors say that the woman lured the victim to her O’Fallon residence and then shot him when he arrived. She initially told police that the man had broken into her home and she killed him in self-defense. Police believe that the woman killed the man to frame another individual who was convicted and then acquitted of killing his wife in 2011.
According to media reports, the most compelling evidence against the woman was discovered when police searched her residence and car. The serial numbers on bank notes found in her home safe are said to have been virtually identical to the markings on cash that the victim had in his pockets when he was killed. Police also established that the woman had parked her vehicle outside the victim’s home 30 minutes before the killing using information downloaded from Google Maps.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys may recommend against entering an Alford plea in cases involving violent crimes. Pleading guilty as part of a negotiated agreement with prosecutors might lead to a less severe sentence than would be handed down to a defendant who enters an Alford plea, and parole boards may be less likely to release individuals who have been convicted of serious crimes but still maintain their innocence.
Source: KMOV, Pamela Hupp sentenced to life in prison without parole, Lauren Trager, Aug. 13, 2019