Chattanooga: Judge gives woman suspended sentence in murder-for-hire plot

Chattanooga: Judge gives woman suspended sentence in murder-for-hire plot

June 7th, 2013 by Todd South in Local - Breaking News

Sharon Zurconett, 54, is accused of conspiracy to commit first degree murder.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

A 55-year-old Soddy-Daisy woman has avoided jail time in a murder-for-hire plot, if she can stay out of trouble.

On Thursday, Sharon Zurconett pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempt to solicit the commission of first-degree murder rather than face a trial on solicitation of murder for a plot police say she hatched to get rid of a woman who was dating a man she believed to be her boyfriend.

Police arrested Zurconett on April 24 after Walter Hogeland, 65, reported she'd tried two weeks before to pay him $300 to kill Celestea Figueroa, 51.

When Hogeland first contacted police, officers set up a meeting between Hogeland and Zurconett. During that April 13, 2012, meeting, Zurconett asked Hogeland to kill the woman.

Figueroa was dating Gary Cooper, a family friend of Zurconett's and her mother.

Cooper told the Times Free Press after a June 2012 hearing in the case that he'd never been romantically involved with Zurconett.

Figueroa said at the time that she feared for her safety after learning of the plot.

Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern accepted the plea deal, arranged between the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office and Zurconett's attorney, Charles Wright.

Zurconett received a five-year suspended sentence based on her limited criminal history. If she commits another crime, she could be required to serve the remainder of her sentence in prison.

The Soddy-Daisy woman pleaded guilty in 1990 to carrying a dangerous weapon and was sentenced by the late Criminal Court Judge Joseph Dirisio to 90 days in the workhouse and a one-year suspended sentence.

For more see tomorrow's Times Free Press.