Merrill woman pleads no contest to soliciting boyfriend?s murder
A 33-year-old Merrill woman, accused of trying to hire a friend to kill her boyfriend, entered a no contest plea in Marathon County Court Friday.
Jessica Strom faced a charge of conspiracy to commit first degree homicide. She entered a not guilty plea to that charge in March.
At Friday’s plea hearing, Strom pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of solicitation of first degree homicide. That charge carries a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison, while she faced up to 60 years on the original charge.
A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to court records, Strom approached a male friend in late February with a proposal to kill her boyfriend, an attorney who also lives in Merrill. The friend declined to commit the murder and informed police. Police set up and sting operation using him as a confidential informant. He told Strom he had reconsidered and arranged to meet with her at a downtown Wausau restaurant Feb. 27. That meeting was video and audio recorded by police.
At the preliminary hearing Friday, a judge heard testimony from Wausau Police Department detective Jennifer Holz, who had been in the restaurant during the meeting between Strom and the confidential informant. During that conversation, Holz said, Strom suggested that the informant commit the murder at her boyfriend’s Merrill home office.
At the close of the conversation in the restaurant, Strom suggested they meet in a month at her house, where she would pay him $1,000 and have sex with him.
Wausau Police obtained a search warrant for Strom’s Merrill home and recovered diagrams of her boyfriend’s neighborhood and home, which she had drawn during the meeting at the restaurant.
Pending sentencing, Strom remains jailed in Marathon County on a $250,000 cash bond.