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School Teacher Acquitted of Murder in Death of Sister’s Husband

September 23, 1993 GMT

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ A school teacher was acquitted of murder Wednesday after she testified she did not conspire with her twin sister and a handyman to kill the sister’s husband, a wealthy Huntsville doctor.

Peggy Lowe’s relatives and friends cheered as the verdict was announced after jurors deliberated about 2 1/2 hours.

″I asked the Lord to send me a good lawyer and he did,″ Mrs. Lowe said as she wiped her eyes and thanked her attorney.

Mrs. Lowe, who had been removed from the classroom when she was charged, said she plans to return to work as a first-grade teacher in Vincent, a town about 25 miles east of Birmingham.

The sister, Betty Wilson, was convicted of capital murder in March and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The handyman, James D. White, confessed to killing Dr. Jack Wilson and pleaded guilty to murder in exchange for his testimony. He received a life sentence but will be eligible for parole.

White told jurors the Shelby County teacher enticed him with money and sex to kill Wilson. He had given similar testimony at Mrs. Wilson’s trial in Tuscaloosa.

Both trials were moved out of Huntsville because of pretrial publicity.

Mrs. Lowe’s attorney, David Cromwell Johnson, said the innocent verdict could be useful to Mrs. Wilson’s lawyers as they appeal her conviction.

The case went to jurors on the eighth day of the trial after the judge told them that White’s testimony would not be enough to convict Mrs. Lowe unless it was backed up by other evidence.

″You have the right to completely disregard his testimony,″ Circuit Judge William Page said.

Mrs. Lowe, who could have been sentenced to the electric chair if convicted in the capital case, took the witness stand earlier Wednesday and showed no emotion as she told jurors she was not involved in a conspiracy to kill Wilson.

The 48-year-old woman said she was trying to help White financially and had lined up work for him at her sister’s home in Huntsville when he killed Wilson.

Mrs. Lowe’s attorneys characterized White as a ″psychopathic liar″ with severe drug and alcohol problems.

But in closing arguments, Assistant Attorney General Gerri Grant said Mrs. Wilson ″hated and despised her husband″ and that Mrs. Lowe conspired with her twin to kill the wealthy doctor.

″Betty Wilson had a secret life that nobody knew about and so did her sister,″ Ms. Grant told jurors.