Target of Murder-for-Hire Scheme Defends Plotting Wife, She Gets No Jail Time

Photo: Mother, daughter accused of conspiracy plotCourtesy David Shamp
Catherine Shamp was charged with trying to hire a hitman to kill her husband, David. Their teenage daughter, Ashley, also was charged.

A Texas woman who pleaded guilty to conspiring to kill her husband will not serve time in prison following an emotional statement in her defense from none other than the target of her plot.

Catherine Shamp, 38, admitted Wednesday she attempted to hire her daughter's ex-boyfriend to kill her husband, David Shamp. In court, David Shamp made a victim impact statement before sentencing came down, supporting the plea deal that would not put his wife behind bars.

"He described the pain his family was going through and said that he wanted to be able to go forward with his life," Kari Allen, the prosecuting attorney in the courtroom, told ABC News. "He said he did not want her to go to the penitentiary."

"She [Catherine] never turned around to face him. She faced forward. ... He was talking to her back," Allen said.

"I'm glad that she's not going to stay in prison for the rest of her life," Shamp told reporters afterward, according to ABC News' Houston affiliate KTRK. "Maybe she can get on her feet and do the right things for a change. ... She just made some really bad decisions."

David Shamp was instrumental in keeping his wife out of prison, Allen said.

"From the beginning he did not want the mother of his children going to prison. ... It was a huge factor," she said. "Mr. Shamp loved this woman. She betrayed him in her offense, but she is the mother of his children. There is still an emotional tie to that."

In December, David Shamp told ABC News that he had already forgiven his wife for the plot.

"I forgive her for what she did because I can't go home -- God won't let me go home with hatred in my heart and raise my kids with hatred in my heart for what she has done, because I can't do that," he said.

David Shamp said in court Wednesday that he did not want his wife to be part of their three children's lives, something he apparently saw coming back in December.

"She was a good mother," he said then. "We're not painting a picture that this was an evil woman, but they know Mommy is never coming home, not to our house."

The purpose of the victim impact statement, assistant district attorney Donna Hawkins said, is to "give the victim some closure."

Rather than risk time in prison, Catherine Shamp accepted a plea deal in which she accepted five years' deferred adjudication, a form of felony probation, and 500 hours of community service.

If Shamp completes the five years without incident, she will not "receive a final felony conviction," Hawkins said.

The Shamps are in the middle of a divorce, Allen said.

A Hidden Recorder, a Botched Plot

The Shamps' bizarre story started in November, when a confidential informant -- later identified as Nathan Blake, the ex-boyfriend of the Shamps' daughter, 18-year-old Ashley Shamp -- contacted Texas' Harris County Sheriff's Office and said Catherine Shamp had asked him to kill David Shamp, police said.

The sheriff's homicide department equipped Blake with recording devices before he met again with Catherine Shamp. That conversation was recorded.

"The CI [Blake] recorded Catherine Shamp stating she wanted her husband murdered and would be willing to pay the 'hit man' approximately $20,000," the sheriff's office said in a statement in December.

Armed with the recording, police arrested Catherine Shamp in late November. Two days later, police arrested Ashley Shamp for allegedly being involved in the plot, but she was later released.

In December, Ashley told ABC News that her mother often talked about getting rid of her husband, David, but she never took it seriously.

"She pulled me into the spare bedroom and said sort of laughing, 'Hey, I bought these pills, let's put them in your dad's beer,' and I was like, 'Why would you do that?'" Ashley said then.

Victim of Alleged Murder Plot Was Stunned

When the police called David Shamp to alert him to the alleged plot, he was dumbfounded.

"At first, I didn't actually believe them. I thought that someone was pulling a mean prank, a friend was calling to prank me," Shamp told ABC News in December.

But when police told Shamp they had recordings of his wife negotiating a price for the hit, he said his disbelief turned to "complete devastation."

Shamp said his marriage was on an uphill run, and everything was going great. He even spent Thanksgiving with his in-laws while his wife was in custody.

David Shamp said he found out after his wife was arrested that she had been racking up tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt.

"I just don't understand it all … just don't understand it at all," he said.

ABC News' Juju Chang, Jennifer Pereira, Suzan Clarke and Justin Weaver contributed to this report.

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