Sentence suspended in murder for hire plot

Sentence suspended in murder for hire plot

June 8th, 2013 by Todd South in Local Regional 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 trial on a charge of solicitation of murder.

Police say she plotted 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.

After Hogeland 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 friend of Zurconett and her mother.

Cooper told the Chattanooga Times Free Press after a June 2012 hearing in the case that he'd never been involved romantically 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 rest of her sentence in prison.

She 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, records show.

Contact staff writer Todd South at 423-757-6347 or tsouth@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.