Murder Suspect Must Decide on Plea Deal

Murder Suspect Must Decide on Plea Deal

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- An Arizona woman accused in the slaying of her employer has been given until July 18 to decide whether to accept a plea deal.

Kerri Fae Brown, 42, of Mesa is charged with the first-degree felony homicide in the slaying of Mina Pajela, 54, of Pleasant Grove.

Public defender Richard Gale told Judge Lynn Davis on Monday that his client needed more time to consider retaining private attorney Ronald Yengich of Salt Lake City. At a May 23 hearing, Gale told Davis that Brown's family had recently come forward with money to retain private counsel after they learned she was considering a plea deal.

Brown also must decide whether to accept a plea bargain offered by Chief Deputy Utah County Attorney Sherry Ragan.

Ragan said she is still consulting with the victim's family about the particulars of the offer.

However, she added that the same plea offer may not be available to Brown after the July hearing date.

A possible plea deal might have Brown pleading guilty to second-degree felony manslaughter, which carries a possible sentence of one to 15 years in prison, while the first-degree felony is punishable by a five-years-to-life sentence, Brown said.

Prosecutors allege that in April 2001, Brown shot Pajela in a Pleasant Grove parking lot to cover up financial crimes.

The original murder charges, filed in 2002, were dismissed because prosecutors needed more information and were unable to interview witnesses.

Charges were refiled in April 2004.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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