SANTA ANA – A panel of justices from the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled Monday that a woman convicted of orchestrating a hit on her husband because she worried his cancer was eating up their nest egg must pay restitution to his estate.
Sandra Jessee, 62, formerly of Placentia, challenged restitution orders, but did not contest her conviction or sentence for special-circumstances murder for financial gain for the stabbing of 56-year-old Jack Jessee on Aug. 13, 1998. She was sentenced in March 2012 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Prosecutors said Sandra Jessee had Jack Jessee, who was battling colon cancer, murdered so she could save money by not paying for his cancer treatments and to profit from his insurance and 401(k) death benefits.
After the trial, Jessee was ordered to pay $521,414 in restitution, including $311,858 to Jack Jesse’s estate as repayment for the life insurance proceeds, $131,291 to his estate as repayment of one-half of the 401(k) plan he received from his employer, $45,335 to his estate as repayment for one-half of the proceeds from the sale of the family home, $29,648 to Allstate Insurance Co. for a fraudulent auto theft claim she filed and $3,282 to one of his daughters, Chere Conrad-Williams, for the cost of attending the hearings and trials.
Jessee challenged four of the five restitution orders. The justices upheld the restitution orders except for the payment to Allstate, which they reversed because she was not convicted of insurance fraud, according to the court of appeal’s opinion.
The justices also upheld a ruling that co-defendants Thomas Aehlert, Sandra Jessee’s son; and Brett Schrauben, Aehlert’s former best friend, must help to pay the restitution.
Prosecutors said Jessee and her son solicited and paid Schrauben $50,000 to kill Jack Jessee. In a deal negotiated with prosecutors, Aehlert pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced in April to 15 years to life in prison.
Schrauben pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced in March to two years in jail. Schrauben’s friend, Thomas Joseph Garrick, who was accused of being a contract killer, was acquitted in February.
Register staff writer Vik Jolly and City News Service contributed to this report.
By DENISSE SALAZAR / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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