DA: Mother, Son Killed Cancer-Stricken Man to Save Money

Didn't want to "waste" insurance money on cancer treatments

Thursday, Jun 25, 2009  |  Updated 12:05 PM EDT
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DA: Mother, Son Killed Cancer-Stricken Man to Save Money

Sandra Jessee, 58, and Thomas Aehlert, 39

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A woman and her son went on trial Monday on charges they had her cancer-stricken husband killed a decade ago to avoid the cost of his medical treatment.

Sandra Jessee, 58, and Thomas Aehlert, 39, pleaded not guilty in 2007 to murder for financial gain and felony conspiracy. If convicted, they face life in prison.

Prosecutors say Jack Jessee, 58, was killed because his wife thought insurance wouldn't fully cover his medical bills and she didn't want to spend their retirement savings on his cancer treatment.

Aehlert is accused of hiring a friend, Brett Schrauben, 37, for $50,000 to kill his stepfather. Prosecutors say Schrauben and another man stabbed Jack Jessee at his Placentia home in August 1998.

Sandra Jessee moved to Arizona after she collected $650,000 in life insurance, her husband's retirement savings and proceeds from the sale of their home, prosecutors said.

Aehlert later met Schrauben several times to make remaining payments for the murder, prosecutors said.

In 2005, new information surfaced that linked the suspects to the crime, said district attorney spokeswoman Farrah Emami. She said she could not elaborate.

Schrauben pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter last year and is scheduled to be sentenced in July.

Emami said the fourth suspect has not been charged due to lack of evidence.

Attempts to locate defense attorneys for Sandra Jessee and her son were not successful Monday night.
    

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