Terminally Ill Convict Deborah Peagler to Be Released

In 1983 she pleaded to first-degree murder and accepted a sentence of 25 years to life, after prosecutors threatened her with the death penalty, according to her lawyer.

The Los Angeles County prosecutor, however, tells a very different story about how Wilson, a known drug dealer, ended up in Alondra Park, where the two men beat him and strangled him to death with a power cord.

In a recent letter to Schwarzenegger, District Attorney Steve Cooley did not give an opinion on whether Peagler should be released but reiterated the prosecution's theory at the time of the trial: Peagler had Wilson killed to collect his life insurance.

"Ms. Peagler conspired with two hard-core gang members to kill her estranged boyfriend. She then attempted to pay the co-conspirators with proceeds from the victim's life insurance," Cooley wrote.

Cooley also told the governor that Peagler's story has changed several times in the course of her incarceration.

"Over the last two decades, Ms. Peagler has provided dramatically inconsistent statements regarding her conduct and mental state on the night of the victim's murder," he wrote. "Even if Ms. Peagler's claims of intimate partner abuse were true in whole or in part, they still do not justify or excuse her criminal conduct.

"Such calculated and premeditated conduct is entirely inconsistent with an abused woman desperately acting in self-defense," Cooley wrote.

Peagler has been close to freedom before. In 2005, the district attorney said they would let her plead to a lesser charge that would allow her to be released, but later balked and rescinded the offer, saying they gained new information.

Murder Convict Wants to Die With Her Family

In June, her lawyers asked a court to release her on bail. County prosecutors did not object, but a judge ruled that the law did not permit such a release.

Members of the victim's family, including his father, sister and three children, wrote to Gov. Schwarzenegger supporting Peagler's request for release.

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