Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Soldier who masterminded wife's murder for hire sentenced to life without parole

Army Sgt. 1st Class Donald Dean Gower, 40, was sentenced on Thursday, August 28 to life without parole for the murder for hire shooting death of his wife Hidi in Kempner, TX, 20 miles west of Ft. Hood. Though a soldier from Ft. Hood, the army did not request jurisdiction in this case.

Jeremiah John Ellison and John Robert Martinez were offered money to off Hidi, but the eventual shooter was Chaka Romain Johnson, sentenced to life without parole in June. The three men, not soldiers, were met through Gower’s girlfriend Regina Edwards. All 4 people were arrested, though charges were dropped against Edwards.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Gower had been planning his wife’s murder for several months, hoping to obtain a $100,000 life insurance policy, and gave $250 to one of the men to buy a gun. Gower also offered one of the men $25,000 at one time and then $10,000 to kill his wife, according to testimony.

But Gower’s attorney John Galligan argued that his client, who has almost 20 years of military service, has been taking a large amount of medication for mental disorders and service-related physical injuries. Gower served in Desert Storm but not in Iraq, Galligan said. According to court testimony, Gower made statements that he wanted to kill his wife and father but later said he didn’t remember saying that.

Last year after his arrest, Gower was deemed incompetent to stand trial and was sent to a state mental facility for several weeks until his mental status improved, but he was ordered to continue taking medication, Galligan said.

All participants who haven't been tried yet testified at both trials (Gower’s and Johnson’s). Dan Booth, the victim’s brother, said her family is happy with the verdicts. Lampasas County prosecutors tried the case.

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