Julia Merfeld Update: Mich. woman caught on video trying to hire hit man gets prison

Julia Merfeld
Booking photo via CBS Detroit
Julia Merfeld
Booking photo via CBS Detroit

(CBS/AP) MUSKEGON, Mich. - Julia Charlene Merfeld, a 21-year-old Michigan woman who was caught on camera trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband, has been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison, CBS Detroit reports.

Muskegon County Circuit Court Judge William Marietti on Tuesday handed down the sentence that will put Merfeld behind bars for a minimum of five years, eight months.

Merfeld, of Muskegon, pleaded guilty to soliciting the murder of her 27-year-old husband.

On a hidden camera video made by investigators, Merfeld is heard telling a detective posing as a hit man that the killing would be "easier than divorcing him."

Authorities say Merfeld wanted her husband's $400,000 life insurance policy and was videotaped in April promising to pay $50,000 for the killing.

"When I first decided to do this, it's not that we weren't getting along. I mean, I was just, it was easier than -- as terrible as it sounds -- it was easier than divorcing him," Merfeld said in the video. "You know, I didn't have to worry about the judgment of my family, I didn't have to worry about breaking his heart; all that stuff like this. It's, like, how I got a clean getaway."

Merfeld told the undercover cop it would be best if he fatally shoot her husband, who is the father of her two children.

"If you can get him outside, that would be great... It would be messy in the house," she said with a laugh. "Surprise me with how you do it because, I mean, the more shocked I am when it happens, the better it will be. I just want to make it as non-suspicious as possible," Merfeld added.

The undercover officer is heard warning her that there will be no calling it off. "There's no way he's gonna live; I mean, he's gonna die," says the detective, while Merfeld smiles.

Investigators say they were tipped off about the situation by one of Merfeld's co-workers whom she initially approached to get the job done.

That same co-worker told reporters he was surprised by Merfeld's request, because she seemed to be a good mother to her kids and he never mentioned she was unhappy in her marriage, prior to that day.

Merfeld asked the judge Tuesday for a lighter punishment.

Complete coverage of Julia Merfeld on Crimesider