A Catoosa County, Ga., woman pleaded guilty Friday to setting her house on fire in 2007, killing her husband inside.
After several trial delays, Teresa Kohnle, 36, signed a plea agreement Friday morning, admitting she had been involved in a plot to burn the house owned by her and her husband, James, to receive money from their insurance company, authorities said.
In Catoosa County Superior Court, Judge Ralph Van Pelt Jr. sentenced Teresa Kohnle to life in prison with the possibility of parole, court records show.
By pleading guilty, Teresa Kohnle avoided a malicious murder charge and was charged with felony murder and two counts of arson, said her attorney, McCracken "Ken" Poston.
"She admitted to being a part of the plot with her husband," Poston said. "[James Kohnle] told her exactly what to do, and she did it."
If the case had gone to trial, prosecutors were going to try to prove that she had intentionally killed her husband, but that wasn't the case, Poston said.
According to Teresa Kohnle's testimony, James Kohnle told her to put a candle in a certain spot and leave the house with the couple's now 10-year-old and 14-year-old children, Poston said.
"She sadly has to deal with the aftermath," he said.
James Kohnle, 57, was a chiropractor in Dalton, Ga., and was sick with Lyme disease, Poston said.
A friend produced a handwritten will that James Kohnle supposedly wrote three weeks before his death, Poston said. From the will, it seems that James Kohnle planned to kill himself by remaining in the house while it burned, Poston said.
Since the Kohnles planned the fire together, Teresa Kohnle would have no idea if her husband had different intentions at the end, Poston said.
Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Alan Norton, who prosecuted the case, did not return calls seeking comment.
In July 2007, Teresa Kohnle was arrested several weeks after the fire at the couple's house on Boynton Drive killed her husband. Police found flammable liquid used to set the house on fire, reports show.
After being arrested, she originally pleaded not guilty, Poston said.