JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A Jonesboro woman plead guilty to three counts of hindering apprehension in connection to the murder of her husband, according to court documents filed in Craighead County Circuit Court.
According to a Guilty Plea Statement filed Friday morning, Michelle Despain entered into a negotiated plea, pleading guilty to three counts of hindering the apprehension and prosecution of capital murder. With the plea, Despain will no longer face capital murder charges.
Despain was ordered to appear in court again on September 17th at 10:30 a.m. for sentencing. As part of the plea agreement, the state recommends a 30 year prison sentence. Despain also waived her right to an appeal.
According to the plea agreement, the state said they agreed to the arrangement due to "uncertainties face at pre-trial motion hearings, potential risks to evidence admissibility during trial, the State's unavoidable reliance upon uncertain testimony from previously convicted defendants, and the burden of providing unanimous proof beyond a reasonable doubt."
Despain was accused of conspiring to kill her husband, Marc, on August 24, 2011. A probable cause affidavit filed after Michelle's arrest stated that Marc was shot and killed at his home at 4320 Jenni Lane. (Scroll to bottom of page to read about this case's timeline.)
Three men were convicted of different charges in connection to Marc's murder. Terrance Barker plead guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Carl Kelley, Michelle's father, plead guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Another man, Johnny Hubbard, plead guilty to hindering apprehension and revocation of probation from a prior drug charge.
According to the probable cause affidavit, phone records indicated that Michelle and her father sent several text messages to one another, including several on the day of the murder. Police said the majority of those texts were deleted on August 24, 2011.
Barker told police during the murder, Carl Kelley was giving play-by-play details to someone as they were taking place. Police say phone records corroborate his testimony.
Police say one text on Michelle's phone was meant to be deleted, but remained on her phone and was obtained by Jonesboro police.
The affidavit stated, Barker agreed to provide testimony against any individual charged in the death of Marc.
The affidavit stated that evidence will show Kelley and Despain engaged in a conspiracy to contact and promise payment to the other individuals to cause the death of Marc Despain. It also reads that Kelley and Despain did so for personal reasons, including but not limited to the collection of insurance proceeds which were to become available at the victim's death.