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Woman gets probation for killing her husband

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Fort Bend County woman who admitted to killing her husband is not going to jail. It's all because of a plea deal reached just moments before a jury was going to return a guilty verdict against Charlene Hill.

A Fort Bend County woman who admitted to shooting her husband walked out of court on probation Friday afternoon after two trials. The second jury was moments away from convicting the woman for murder when a plea deal was struck.

Danny Hill was shot to death by his wife back in 2006. Everyone agrees to that fact. Still, Charlene Hill was given probation for the killing, something the victim's family is not happy about.

Before sentencing Charlene Hill to probation, District Court Judge Jim Shoemake explained why he went through with the plea deal just as jurors had voted to convict Hill in the slaying of her husband Danny Hill.

Judge Shoemake said, "Because I had assured the parties, the lawyers involved in this, that I would take the plea, I did not take that verdict, and I think it was the wise thing to have done, and I don't pat myself on the back for that.'

Family members of Danny Hill knew probation would be handed down Friday. In court, Danny Hill's mother Barbara Graham let it be known she did not agree with the punishment.

She said, "She has escaped being called a convicted felon by a few seconds on a clock. The truth is Charlene Hill would not divorce my son because that would mean having to lose what we all know is precious to her, money."

Charlene Hill did not speak as she walked out of the Fort Bend County Courthouse. Her lawyer, George Parnham, did say probation was the right sentence, citing testimony during the trials that Charlene Hill was the victim of domestic violence.

Parnham said, "She suffered through a relationship as a battered woman, by the man that she shot."

Prosecutor Chad Bridges worked out the terms of Hill's plea bargain as jurors were deliberating the case. Bridges believes justice was served.

"I think that her guilty plea to murder was appropriate because it wasn't self-defense," Bridges said. "Her having to allocute that it was not self-defense was a big part of it for us."

It's little comfort to Danny Hill's family.

Graham said, "But she is and always will be, a murderer."

Hill must serve 10 years on probation, a $10,000 fine and must talk to groups about domestic violence, although she may not tell those groups she acted in self-defense.

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