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November 8, 2011

WOMAN FACES TRIAL FOR MURDER-FOR-PROFIT CONSPIRACY TO HAVE CANCER-STRICKEN HUSBAND KILLED

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 5:33 am

*Defendant’s son was previously convicted of second degree murder in this case

SANTA ANA - A woman faces trial tomorrow for conspiring to have her third husband murdered so she could save money by not paying for his cancer treatments and financially profit from his insurance and 401k death benefits. Sandra Jessee, 60, formerly of Placentia, is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain and one felony count of conspiracy. If convicted, she faces a sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. This is a re-trial of the case against Jessee, as a previous jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on July 21, 2009. Opening statements are expected to begin tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011, in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.

Sandra Jessee’s son from a previous marriage Thomas Dayton Aehlert, 41, Gold Canyon, AZ, pleaded guilty in this case Oct. 7, 2011, to one felony count of second degree murder and faces a sentence of 15 years to life in state prison at his sentencing hearing March 9, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35.

In the spring of 1998, Sandra Jessee’s third husband of 15 years, 56-year-old Jack Jessee, was diagnosed with cancer.  Sandra Jessee wanted to move to Arizona, where Aehlert had recently moved. The victim did not want to leave California, where his adult children lived.

Between June 1, 1998, and July 1, 1999, Sandra Jessee is accused of conspiring with Aehlert to hire a hit man to murder Jack Jessee for financial gain. Sandra Jessee is accused of wanting to have the victim murdered because she resented having to care for him and did not want to deplete their retirement savings, believing that insurance would not cover all of his cancer treatments.

On several occasions in June 1998, Aehlert called friend Brett Schrauben, 39, to solicit and arrange the murder of Jack Jessee in exchange for $50,000. On June 24, 1998, Sandra Jessee is accused of meeting Schrauben in a store parking lot in Placentia. She is accused of paying him $5,000 to kill her husband while she was away from her home and instructing him to make the murder look like a residential burglary.

On Aug. 13, 1998, Aehlert called Schrauben to discuss the murder, which was to take place that day. That morning, Schrauben and a friend, Thomas Garrick, drove to the Jessee’s home, but left after Schrauben changed his mind about committing the murder. When Schrauben called Aehlert and told him that the murder had not been committed, Aehlert told Schrauben that Jack Jessee had to be murdered that night or else Sandra Jessee would do it herself.

At approximately 8:00 p.m. that night, Sandra Jessee is accused of leaving her house under the pretense of going to the bank with the knowledge that her husband would be murdered while she was gone. After Sandra Jessee had left, Schrauben and Garrick returned to the victim’s house. Garrick is accused of entering the home and stabbing the victim several times, killing him. Schrauben then drove Garrick away from the scene. Just minutes later, Jack Jessee’s adult daughter went to the victim’s house and discovered her murdered father in the living room.

After the murder of her husband, Sandra Jessee is accused of selling the Placentia home she had shared with Jack Jessee and moving to Arizona. She is accused of profiting by receiving over $650,000 after the murder of her husband from the home sale profits and Jack Jessee’s 401(k) death benefits and insurance.

Between Dec. 18, 1998, and June 30, 1999, Aehlert met with Schrauben on multiple occasions in Phoenix, AZ, and Laughlin, NV, to pay him the remaining $45,000 for the murder.

The case went cold until 2005, when additional investigation linked the three defendants to the murder. On May 25, 2007, officers from the Phoenix Police Department arrested the defendants on the Orange County warrant. Sandra Jessee was arrested at her daughter’s home in Apache Junction, AZ, and Aehlert was arrested at his work in Phoenix, AZ.

Jessee and Aehlert were indicted on April 27, 2007. Schrauben pleaded guilty to one felony count of voluntary manslaughter on Nov. 20, 2008, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 13, 2011, in Department C-55 (Case #08CF3271).

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