Trial opens for cheerleader's mother Man says she wanted rival, mom killed.

August 27, 1991|By Chicago Tribune

HOUSTON -- The trial of Wanda Webb Holloway, accused of soliciting a murder to improve her 13-year-old daughter's chances of making the school cheerleading team, has opened with testimony that she wanted her daughter's rival and the rival's mother "done away with."

Holloway, who faces up to life in prison if convicted, has pleaded not guilty to charges of solicitation of capital murder and kidnapping.

Defense lawyers called Holloway the victim of brothers scheming to take her children away from her.

Terry Lynn Harper, Holloway's former brother-in-law and the man she allegedly asked to find a hired killer, testified that Holloway told him that 13-year-old Amber Heath had been beating out Holloway's daughter, Shanna, in cheerleading competition for some time.

"I hate this girl," Harper quoted Holloway as saying last fall. "I want to get rid of her," he quoted her as saying. "I hate her mother, I want to get rid of her . . . I want these people done away with."

Harper, 36, said that when he told Holloway he didn't know anyone who would be willing to murder a child, she replied, "There's such a thing as car wrecks and houses burning down."

Prosecutors say that Holloway, consumed with ambition for her daughter, eventually decided she couldn't afford to kill both mother and daughter; so she decided instead to have only the mother, Verna Heath, killed for $2,500 -- on the theory the daughter would then be too distraught to try out for the cheerleading squad.

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