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Man guilty of scheming with mom to kill cancer-stricken stepdad

October 7, 2011 |  4:13 pm

A man was convicted Friday of conspiring to kill his cancer-stricken stepfather 13 years ago as part of a plot to save his mother medical treatment costs and enrich her with the life insurance and estate.

Thomas Day Aehlert, 41, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the death of Jack Jessee, who prosecutors allege was stabbed to death by a hit man in Placentia.

Orange County prosecutors say Aehlert and his mother, Sandra Jessee, 58, paid the hit man $50,000 to have Jack Jessee killed in his home. Jack Jessee, 56, was stabbed repeatedly on the night of Aug. 13, 1998. Sandra Jessee's trial for murder for financial gain is due to begin Oct. 21.

Sandra Jessee sold their home, collected her husband's retirement savings and a life insurance settlement and moved to Arizona, where Aehlert lived, authorities said. Investigators said she collected more than $650,000.

The case went cold until 2005, when investigators were able to link the suspects in the case.

Prosecutors say that Aehlert got a friend to arrange the hit and make it look like a residential burglary. Sandra Jessee is accused of leaving her house to go to the bank with the knowledge that the hit man would come while she was away.

After she left, the friend and the hit man, Thomas Garrick, returned to the victim’s house, prosecutors said. Garrick is accused of entering the home and stabbing the victim several times, killing him.


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