Killer to Testify Against Her Mother

From Associated Press

A 16-year-old girl has pleaded guilty to murdering her stepfather and will testify against her mother, who is accused of plotting the killing, authorities said.

Elizabeth Shannon pleaded guilty Friday, admitting she shot Army Maj. David Shannon twice as he slept on July 23, 2002. Shannon, 40, was assigned to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Ft. Bragg.

The girl will be sentenced to 25 years in prison if she cooperates in the prosecution of her mother, Joan Shannon, according to an agreement with prosecutors.

Elizabeth Shannon told investigators she killed her stepfather because she was tired of her mother asking her to do it. She also said her mother gave her the gun.

Prosecutor Greg Butler said that, according to witnesses, Joan Shannon had tried for three months to find someone to kill her husband. One witness told investigators she saw Joan Shannon ask another person to kill him and promise to pay the person from insurance money.

Joan Shannon, 37, is free on bail and living in Thaxton, Va., with her late husband's sister, Brenda Strong, who contends Elizabeth acted alone. Joan Shannon did not attend Friday's hearing, though her sister-in-law did.

"Elizabeth coldbloodedly planned the murder," Strong said. "She put the gun to the head of the man who raised her since she was 4 years old and pulled the trigger."

No trial date has been set for Joan Shannon, who is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy.

It was the fifth domestic-related slaying linked to the base in June and July 2002. The other four involved Ft. Bragg wives who were allegedly killed by their husbands.

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