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SALT LAKE CITY — A woman charged with gunning down her former daughter-in-law in a preschool parking lot has asked a judge to allow her to plead guilty.
Mary Nance Hanson, 71, appeared in court Monday to discuss letters she has written, including one in which she asks 3rd District Judge William Barrett to change her plea to guilty. The letter, written in April, asks for the plea change because her "physical health is deteriorating rapidly and I do not believe it would be in the best interests of taxpayers or of myself to pursue a trial."
The Taylorsville woman sent the judge three letters, two of which include a request for a new attorney.
Hanson is charged with murder, a first-degree felony, in the Jan. 29 slaying of Tetyana Nikitina, 34. Police say Hanson fired several rounds with a .38-caliber revolver at Nikitina, who was in her car at the time and trying to drive away. After the shots were fired, Hanson called 911.
When asked why she had fired the shots, police say Hanson said, "I don't know, and that's all I'm going to say."
Nikitina was previously married to Hanson's son, Dale Jankowski, and the couple had two children. Nikitina filed for divorce from Jankowski in February 2005.
Twice after the divorce, Nikitina filed for protective orders against Jankowski, claiming cohabitant abuse, according to court records. Though the records indicate that the divorce and ensuing custody battle have been rife with anger, police said previously they are unaware of anything that may have prompted such violent actions.
Hanson told the judge Monday that she "just wanted to get out of jail, I didn't like jail." She told the judge that if he couldn't release her, perhaps he could send her to prison. The judge told the woman to weigh her legal options, prompting Hanson to ask for "more time to think."
Hanson's attorney, Tawni Hanseen, said her client has no criminal history, which has left her without "a good understanding on how the legal system works." Hanseen said the letters reflect some of Hanson's misunderstandings. Hanson explains her concerns in a letter dated July 12.
"I have never been in jail before and never had to go to court to defend myself and I may not be doing this according to the accepted procedure, so please bear with me," she wrote.
Since the initial letter penned in April, Hanson wrote two other letters to the judge asking for a new attorney, alleging that Hanseen "has never had my best interests at heart." The judge told Hanson on Monday that he didn't have the authority to appoint a new attorney, but assured Hanson that he has known Hanseen for many years and he has "faith in her ability."
"What I'm telling you is that you have a good attorney," Barrett said. "I understand you're frustrated with being in jail, and I will accommodate you any way you want. … I can't let you out of jail."
Hanseen said Hanson's competency "is not an issue" and said she has not found Hanson difficult to work with. Attorneys on both sides of the case indicated they are working on a plea deal.