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Confessed Vegas killer says victim’s wife hatched plot

January 26, 2017 GMT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A man who confessed to stabbing a Las Vegas man to death in 2010 is testifying against the victim’s wife, who prosecutors say hatched the murder plot.

If convicted, Brandy Stutzman, 33, would become the only woman on death row in Nevada.

Jeremiah Merriweather, who was 19 at the time, said he was in love with Stutzman and she wanted her husband dead. Her murder trial is continuing this week in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas.

Merriweather testified Wednesday that he had second thoughts about going through with the plot, but agreed to kill Joe Stutzman at Brandy Stutzman’s insistence, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported (http://tinyurl.com/j82fcjc).

Merriweather said he remembered that just before the killing Brandy Stutzman fixed his hair, pulled a dark hood over his head and told him, “You gotta do this. You can save our family.”

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He grabbed a mask and a knife with brass knuckles, hopped into a Chrysler PT Cruiser, with another man behind the wheel, and headed toward the northern valley home where Joe Stutzman slept.

Prosecutors said Stutzman was stabbed 15 times, and left for dead with a severed ring finger.

Afterward, Merriweather said Brandy Stutzman asked him, “Are you sure he’s dead?”

Merriweather pleaded guilty in February 2015 to murder, conspiracy and burglary. He faces at least 21 years in state prison at sentencing, which will be scheduled after Stutzman’s trial.

Brandy Stutzman told police she found her 32-year-old husband dead Nov. 7, 2010, at his home. She was living with a friend at the time.

Merriweather testified he met Brandy Stutzman about a year earlier, and grew close to her and her 5-year-old son while Joe Stutzman, who worked as a military aircraft mechanic, spent extended stretches deployed overseas. Merriweather denied he and Brandy Stutzman had sex.

Prosecutors said Joe Stutzman had $213,000 life insurance policy, but Merriweather said that wasn’t why he killed.

He testified that he thought he would have a better relationship with Brandy Stutzman if her husband was “out of the picture.”

Brandy Stutzman pleaded not guilty in December 2010 to murder, burglary and robbery charges.

Nevada currently has 81 men awaiting the death penalty at the state maximum security prison in Ely, said Brooke Keast, state prisons spokeswoman.

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The last woman sentenced to die in Nevada was Priscilla Joyce Ford, who was convicted in March 1982 of killing six people and injuring 23 by driving her Lincoln Continental down a crowded Reno sidewalk on Thanksgiving Day 1980. Ford was held at the state women’s prison in North Las Vegas, where she suffered from emphysema and died in January 2005, at age 75.

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Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com