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Contract Killings


Thursday, 8 May 2008

Velma Ogden-Whitehead pleads guilty in 2005 murder-for-hire plot against husband

Velma Ogden-Whitehead had been scheduled to go on trial on murder charges this summer, followed by her son, Jon Ogden, also charged in the alleged murder-for-hire plot that left Ronald Whitehead, a 61-year-old career Boeing employee, dead.
Ogden-Whitehead, 50, said in a statement that she planned the robbery of her husband along with her son and his friend Wilson Sayachack. She denied knowing he would be shot, but conceded she knew that guns were readily available in their home and that force might be used.The standard sentencing range for the first-degree murder charge is 20 to 26 years in prison. Sentencing is set for June 5.Sayachack — the accused shooter — has been tried twice for his alleged role in the slaying. The first trial ended in a mistrial when jurors couldn't agree on a verdict and the second trial also ended in a mistrial last month after a key witness and a handgun thought to be the murder weapon emerged partway through the jury trial.The handgun, which has been tested since it was discovered by police in an unrelated drug seizure in Puyallup is in fact the murder weapon, Craig Peterson, senior deputy prosecuting attorney, said this morning.Whitehead was fatally shot on March 18, 2005, near SeaTac while he was driving to work, in a slaying police said was made to look like a carjacking.Prosecutors allege that Sayachack, 16 at the time, hid in the trunk of Whitehead's car while Jon Ogden, Whitehead's stepson, was in the passenger seat.
Ogden-Whitehead, who for months after the slaying appealed publicly for help finding her husband's killer, admitted this morning that she allowed Sayachack to hide in her garage and gave him information about her husband's schedule.
"I knew about it and facilitated it," she said in her statement.
Ogden-Whitehead, who sobbed through this morning's hearing, was accused of paying Sayachack $1,000 for the killing. Police said she made hundreds of thousands of dollars after selling property she inherited after Whitehead's death."Some of the motivations here are difficult to put a finger on," said her defense attorney Jonathan Neucomb. "It wasn't to do with any financial gain ... There were things going on in that marriage that we'll discuss at sentencing. It was not a happy marriage."Neucomb said Whitehead decided to plead guilty in part because she was upset that her case had been made by prosecutors to look like a premeditated murder, and in part because the evidence that would have been presented at trial would have shown her connection to the robbery.Peterson said this morning he wasn't sure how the plea might affect the other two defendants. Ogden is scheduled to go to trial July 21, and Sayachack's third trial is scheduled for Sept. 22

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