Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Wife" sentenced to 5 years probation for murder-for-hire plot

A woman who was accused of soliciting the murder of her now ex-husband got off with 5 years of deferred adjudication and an no contact order for the victim and their three children. Catherine Shamp was sentenced Wednesday morning in a Houston courtroom. Catherine Shamp could have received 99 years in prison.

The Shamps' bizarre story started in November, when a confidential informant -- later identified as Nathan Blake, the ex-boyfriend of the Shamps' daughter, 18-year-old Ashley Shamp -- contacted Texas' Harris County Sheriff's Office and said Catherine Shamp had asked him to kill David Shamp, police said.

The sheriff's homicide department equipped Blake with recording devices before he met again with Catherine Shamp. That conversation was recorded. "The CI [Blake] recorded Catherine Shamp stating she wanted her husband murdered and would be willing to pay the 'hit man' approximately $20,000," the sheriff's office said in a statement in December.

Armed with the recording, police arrested Catherine Shamp in late November. Two days later, police arrested Ashley Shamp for allegedly being involved in the plot, but she was later released.

Ashley said that while her mother talked about getting rid of the victim, she believed that it was a joke. "She pulled me into the spare bedroom and said sort of laughing, 'Hey, I bought these pills, let's put them in your dad's beer,' and I was like, 'Why would you do that?'"

The victim was shocked to learn about the plot, believing that it was a prank at first, but his disbelief turned to devastation after police showed him recordings of his wife soliciting the hitman. David had spent Thanksgiving with the perp's parents, and there seemed to be no problems in the Shamp marriage.

The reason why Catherine did not get prison was because Harris County Assistant District Attorney Kari Allen said that the victim wanted it. "From the very beginning, he stated he did not want his wife, the mother of his children, to be put away," she said. In the courtroom, David said, "I just want to say to her the pain she gave this family, not just me, her parents, my parents." That pain included losing their home and a car.

Outside the courtroom, he said, "I have to [forgive] because I'm raising three children and if I keep that anger bottled up inside of me, then I'm going to take that home and my children are going to feed off of that anger."

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