Arundel woman is sentenced to life for murdering husband

May 05, 2004|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A Shady Side woman was sentenced yesterday to life in prison for murdering her husband, a slaying she blamed on spousal abuse but which prosecutors say stemmed from his discovery of her five-figure credit card debt.

Terry Harriet Pierce Eslin, 59, wept as she pleaded with Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Nancy Davis-Loomis for leniency in the killing of her husband of 15 years, Richard P. Eslin, as he slept.

"I cannot get over that I did it. But I did not intend to do it," she said, contending -- as she did during her weeklong trial -- that her husband was a "very brutal and harsh man."

On Jan. 17, 2003, she shot him repeatedly in the head while he was in a drug-induced sleep, beat him with the rifle until it broke, wrapped him and his bloody bedclothes in a tarp from one of the couple's cars and secured the bundle with elastic straps, prosecutors said.

Earlier that week, he had given her several days to leave their home, after discovering at least $10,000 of her secret $48,000 credit card debt. A jury convicted her in March of first-degree murder.

"Mr. Eslin may have been a difficult person to live with. There are always options. Murder is not one of those options," Davis-Loomis said.

Prosecutors, who sought a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, said they thought the sentence was fair, given that Eslin has no prior convictions.

Eslin will be eligible for parole consideration after serving 15 years, though credit for good behavior in prison could reduce that time by a few years.

During the trial in March, Eslin unsuccessfully asked jurors to find she was temporarily insane at the time of the slaying due to battered spouse syndrome.

Eslin contended that she endured physical and verbal abuse and that she had left her husband more than once.

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