A San Fernando, California jury, after six days of deliberation, convicted a Chatsworth couple of murdering the woman’s former husband – a Los Angeles Unified School District police officer – for his insurance money, the District Attorney’s office announced.
Jennifer Fletcher, 34, and her 45-year-old husband, Matthew, each was convicted of first-degree murder with the special circumstances of lying in wait and financial gain, conspiracy to commit murder and insurance fraud, and four counts of insurance fraud. Matthew Fletcher additionally was convicted of one count of bigamy.
The Fletchers are scheduled to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole when they return to Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen’s court in San Fernando on Sept. 24. The District Attorney’s office opted not to seek the death penalty for either defendant.
Deputy District Attorney Jeff Jonas presented evidence at the four-month trial that the Fletchers killed Joel Shanbrom on March 18, 1998. Shanbrom was shot to death at a rental home in Northridge that the victim shared with his then-wife, Jennifer Fletcher, and their 3-year-old son.
Police said Jennifer Fletcher claimed the shooting was by intruders and she and the child escaped harm when they hid. But Jonas said the crime scene was “staged” by the defendants, who conspired to go after more than $1 million in insurance benefits.
The Fletchers became engaged less than six months after Shanbrom’s murder. They received $314,000 from the Los Angeles Unified School District after a life insurance claim was filed. Claims also were filed for about $800,000 in additional benefits from insurance polices on Shanbrom with other insurance companies. That money was not paid, however.
Los Angeles police detectives, suspecting the murder scene was staged, continued to gather the evidence that led to the eventual filing of the case in February 2002.
The Fletchers have remained in custody without bail since shortly after the case was filed.
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