Billingsley sentenced in murder-for-hire case

Published 10:55 pm Monday, April 16, 2012

In December, Marie Billingsley was convicted on multiple criminal counts connected to an alleged murder-for-hire scheme. Monday, after a number of procedural delays, which included original trial judge Jack Meigs recusing himself from the case, Billingsley was sentenced.

After testimony from character witnesses and statements from both the prosecution and defense, Circuit Court Judge Tommy Jones handed down Billingsley’s sentence of 21 years in prison; a sentence that drew a dramatic reaction from Billingsley’s family in attendance.

Billingsley, who had taken out six different insurance policies on Mary Thomas of Perry County in an attempt to have her killed, argued her innocence to the court.

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“What I wanted to let the courtroom know is about my side,” Billingsley said, who felt her punishment was unfair. “I just wanted to let the courtroom know that I never plotted up anything … I never sought to kill up nobody … I never wanted to kill her; yes, I do know about the policy — I am innocent.”

Billingsley’s attorney, Angela Starr, said she believed there was “insufficient corroboration” in the case against her client.

“She is a mother, she is a grandmother, she is a sister — she means something to someone and I would ask the court to give a sentence that reflects that,” Starr said.

Assistant Alabama Attorney General Andrew Arrington felt otherwise, that Billingsley was callous, having no regard for the victim’s life. He recommended she serve 99 years.

During Monday’s hearing, Billingsley was sentenced on the following counts: two counts on criminal solicitation of murder and three counts of second-degree forgery.

At the time of the verdict, Arrington said the case involved an incident where Billingsley obtained the address and Social Security number of a Perry County woman and applied for $800,000 in insurance policies since 2002, in the victim’s name. Six applications were made and three were approved. Arrington said Billingsley solicited someone to lure the victim from her home with drugs, run her over with a vehicle and dump her body in a remote part of Perry County. If she were successful, Arrington said, Billingsley would have made close to $1 million off of the deal.

Jones said Billingsley has 42 days to appeal her sentencing.