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Jury Rules 62-Year-Old Moreno Valley Woman Should Receive Death Penalty for Killing Her Husband in 2009

A jury recommended a Moreno Valley woman be put to death for fatally shooting her husband in 2009 after evidence was presented suggesting he was not the first husband she had killed, officials said Friday.

Lorraine Alison Hunter, 62, was convicted of first-degree murder in the death her truck driver husband, Albert Thomas, on Aug. 21, according to a statement from the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

At that time, the jury also found that she had killed Thomas for financial gain and committed the crime while lying in wait.

Though she was prevented from collecting the money, prosecutors alleged that Hunter was aware of more than $1 million available in life insurance policies in Thomas’ name in the event he was murdered.

In determining whether the 62-year-old should be given the death penalty, jurors were shown evidence that another husband of hers was murdered in 1996 in Inglewood. That time, it appears she collected around $312,000 in life insurance funds, officials said.

No one was ever charged in that case.

Thomas was found shot to death in the sleeper section of the semitruck he drove for work on Nov. 4, 2009. The vehicle was parked in a dirt lot near the intersection of Eucalyptus and Edgemont avenues in Moreno Valley at the time, officials said.

Though law enforcement interviewed Hunter in the immediate aftermath of the discovery, she was not arrested until 2011.

Hunter originally testified she was not aware of any life insurance policies in her husband’s name, but investigators later determined she had already spoke to the trucking company that employed him and learned of two policies totaling $225,000 that would double if he were murdered.

“The administrator at the trucking company told detectives that Hunter, prior to Thomas being found dead, had personally been told about the policies and that they doubled in the case of a murder,” DA’s officials said in the press release.

A relative also provided further information that led to her arrest and helped authorities bring charges in the killing, according to prosecutors.

Briuana Hunter, the defendant’s daughter, testified under a plea deal that she and her mother spent months plotting Thomas’ death, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

“She told me, `We need to figure something out,” the 23-year-old told the court, the newspaper reported. “She said that we needed the money. At first, I didn’t know what she meant, but later on, it became clear.”

Detectives also learned that, in addition to the $450,000 available through Thomas’ job if he were murdered, Hunter forged her husband’s signature in attempt to secure another life insurance policy in the amount of $750,000 six months before his killing.

However, her inability to obtain a certified copy of the death certificate prevented her from collecting any of the money.

Hunter is expected to be sentenced on Dec. 8. The DA’s office said it seeks to sentence her to death in the case.