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UPDATE: Richter gets life in prison for NW Iowa killing

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Tracey Richter

Tracey Richter, center, is supported by defense attorney Karment Anderson, left, and Scott Bandstra, right, after being found guilty of first-degree murder in Webster County District Court Monday morning Nov. 7, 2011. Richter was convicted for the Dec. 13, 2001 shooting of Dustin Wehde in her Early, Iowa home. (AP Photo/Hans Madsen, Pool)

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) --- An Iowa judge sentenced a woman to life in prison Monday for killing a neighbor in the small northwest Iowa town of Early as part of a plot to frame her ex-husband.

Tracey Richter claimed she shot 20-year-old Dustin Wehde in her Early home in 2001 after he and another man broke in and strangled her with pantyhose. She appeared on national television soon after the shooting, telling how she killed Wehde to protect herself and her three children.

Jurors sided with prosecutors, who said Richter made up the story as part of a convoluted plot to frame her ex-husband. They said Richter then shot Wehde to keep him quiet.

Richter was sentenced in Webster County District Court after being convicted of first-degree murder Nov. 7. The conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole in Iowa, which doesn't have a death penalty.

Before her trial, Richter lived in Omaha, Neb.

Prosecutors had maintained that Richter, now 45, killed Wehde to keep him quiet about his role in a plot to frame her ex-husband. They said Richter lured Wehde to her home in December 2001, had him write in a pink notebook that her ex-husband hired him to kill her and her son, and then shot him nine times with two guns.

Richter was involved in a custody fight at the time, and prosecutors said she was trying to gain an advantage before an upcoming hearing to keep from losing her son and $1,000-a-month child support payments.

The prosecution's star witness was a former family friend who testified Richter told her about the notebook a few months after the shooting and then later told her to forget about it. Investigators testified they had found the notebook in Wehde's car but kept its existence secret because they believed whoever knew about its contents had committed a crime.

The notebook included references to Richter's first husband, Virginia plastic surgeon John Pitman III, but he testified he never met Wehde and knew nothing about the notebook.

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) --- A woman found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2001 shooting death of her 20-year-old neighbor is scheduled to be sentenced Monday in Webster County District Court.

A jury found 45-year-old Tracey Richter guilty of killing Dustin Wehde to quiet him in a convoluted plot to kill her husband. The jury returned its verdict on Nov. 7 following a trial in Fort Dodge.

Richter claimed she killed Wehde in self-defense during a home invasion but prosecutors say there was no home invasion and that Richter lured Wehde to her house in early, had him write a notebook that her ex-husband had hired him to kill her and their son and then shot him to keep him quiet.

Richter faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

 

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