MUSKEGON (WWJ/AP) – A 21-year-old West Michigan woman who was caught on camera trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband has been sentenced to a minimum of 5 years, 8 months behind bars.

Muskegon County Circuit Court Judge William Marietti on Tuesday sentenced Julia Charlene Merfeld to up to 20 years in prison.

The Muskegon woman pleaded guilty to soliciting the murder of her 27-year-old husband.

On a hidden camera video made by investigators, Merfeld is heard telling a detective posing as a hit man that the killing would be “easier than divorcing him.”

Authorities say Merfeld wanted her husband’s $400,000 life insurance policy and was videotaped in April promising to pay $50,000 for the killing.

“When I first decided to do this, it’s not that we weren’t getting along. I mean, I was just, it was easier than — as terrible as it sounds — it was easier than divorcing him,” Merfeld said. “You know, I didn’t have to worry about the judgment of my family, I didn’t have to worry about breaking his heart; all that stuff like this. It’s, like, how I got a clean getaway.”

Merfeld told the undercover cop it would be best if he fatally shoot her husband, who is the father of her two children,

“If you can get him outside, that would be great… It would be messy in the house,” she said with a laugh. “Surprise me with how you do it because, I mean, the more shocked I am when it happens, the better it will be. I just want to make it as non-suspicious as possible,” Merfeld added.

The uncover officer is heard warning her that there will be no calling it off. “There’s no way he’s gonna live; I mean, he’s gonna die,” says the detective, while Merfeld smiles.

Investigators say they were tipped off about the whole situation by one of Merfeld’s co-workers whom she initially approached to get the job done.

That same co-worker told reporters he was surprised by her Merfeld’s request, because she seemed to be a good mother to her kids and he never mentioned she was unhappy in her marriage, prior to that day.

Merfeld asked the judge Tuesday for a lighter punishment.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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