Charbonneau Pleads Guilty at Murder Retrial - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Charbonneau Pleads Guilty at Murder Retrial

Linda Lou Charbonneau Linda Lou Charbonneau

03/06/2007

DOVER (AP)- Linda Lou Charbonneau, who was sentenced to death for arranging the killings of her husband and ex-husband but whose conviction was overturned, pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder in the death of her ex-husband John Charbonneau.

She could receive up to 20 years in prison. Sentencing is set for May 25.

Charbonneau's plea came during her retrial in Sussex County Superior Court after one of the state's witnesses refused to testify. A plea offer was then made, according to Thomas Pederson, her attorney.

"We felt like we had a fighting chance for an acquittal," Pederson said. "But we didn't feel like we could take that chance. ... Those are big dice to roll." Pederson said Charbonneau was relieved after she accepted the offer.

Charbonneau, 59, was convicted of arranging the killings of her husband, William Sproates III, 45, and John Charbonneau, 62, in 2001. Superior Court Judge Richard Stokes ordered her to die by lethal injection in June 2004.

Willie Brown, who carried out the murders, was been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murders. His wife, Mellisa Rucinski- Linda Charbonneau's daughter- was been sentenced to 25 years for her role in the killings.

Rucinski's lawyer, John Sandy, said Rucinski told the court she did not want to be involved in the case anymore and did not want to testify against her mother.

"Mellisa was tired of it," he said.

She was found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to an additional five months in prison, Sandy said.

David Sproates, brother of William Sproates and John Charbonneau's nephew, was upset with the plea bargain. "My brother died for nothing," he said. "We feel it wasn't fair to the victims. ... I just feel there was no justice whatsoever."

At the first trial, prosecutors had said Linda Charbonneau orchestrated the killing of John Charbonneau, with whom she was living despite being married to William Sproates, after a stormy relationship that included frequent fights over possessions. Charbonneau then had Sproates killed to cover up the murder of her ex-husband, prosecutors said.

 

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