A woman from Independence, Missouri, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with the death of her husband in 2010. The woman, who is facing the lesser charge of manslaughter instead of murder, admitted to beating her husband to death with a hammer after they argued about marital infidelity. The woman was suspicious that her husband was having an extramarital affair. When he threatened to divorce her, she lashed out and killed him.
The woman had initially told investigators that her husband fell down the stairs after getting drunk, but further inspection from the medical examiner determined that the man had been killed by another person. The woman had been charged with second-degree murder, along with armed criminal action, in connection with the slaying of her 64-year-old husband. Prosecutors decided to drop the armed criminal action charge against the woman and downgrade the murder charge to manslaughter after accepting the woman's guilty plea.
Guilty pleas are not appropriate for all criminal defense cases, but in this situation, the woman is benefitting because her maximum sentence will be limited to a 10-year term. However, the guilty plea removed the woman's ability to claim self-defense, which also changed the nature of her criminal case. Guilty pleas eliminate the need for a jury trial, which can expedite the criminal process and lower the amount spent in attorneys' fees.
Authorities report that the woman had talked to community members about her husband's death. She told them that it was a "stupid drunk moment," but it is not clear whether she demonstrated remorse for the crime.
This woman benefitted from a guilty plea, but that course of action is not appropriate for all criminal cases. Defendants should speak with their qualified attorneys before making serious decisions related to pleas and other major matters.
Source: homicide.kansascity.com, "Independence woman admits using hammer to kill husband after argument" Mark Morris, Nov. 14, 2013