MOUNT PLEASANT (WWJ/AP) – A 35-year-old Isabella County man whose 4-year-old son was the subject of an Amber Alert in November is expected to be sent to prison for at least 35 years in the slaying of his estranged wife.

Jason Fish of Lake Isabella pleaded no contest Thursday in a Mount Pleasant courtroom to second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Stephanie Fish. A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing, which is scheduled for May 8.

Defense lawyer Ann McLellan said Jason Fish entered the plea because of potential civil liability in the case, The Morning Sun reported.

The whole incident started when Stephanie Fish’s mother couldn’t contact her. According to court documents, Jason Fish told his mother-in-law that his wife “ran off with another man” — a statement that was not consistent with what he told his wife’s boss: that he was taking her to rehab after finding needles in her purse.

Because of the different stories about his wife’s whereabouts, the sheriff’s department issued an Amber Alert in an attempt to locate Jason Fish and his son, Brody.

Police found the two in Genesee County on Nov. 20 and took them to the Isabella County Sheriff’s Department where after questioning, Jason Fish allegedly admitted to killing his wife, but said he accidentally shot her during a struggle for a rifle.

The couple’s child told police that “daddy put mommy in the bathtub and shot her with a gun, bang bang,” according to a court affidavit.

The affidavit also said Jason told police that after shooting his wife, he moved her body from the bathroom to a bedroom in the home, putting her in a crawl space and covering her in gravel. Police found her body in the couple’s home on Nov. 21.

A forensic pathologist testified that Stephanie Fish was killed by a gunshot wound to the back of her neck. A medical examiner also said Stephanie Fish was shot in the right cheek with a .22-caliber rifle.

TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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