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KILLER GETS LIFE TERM IN MURDER WIFE TO BE SENTENCED TODAY IN SLAYING OF FIRST HUSBAND.

Byline: Rachel Uranga Staff Writer

SAN FERNANDO - A Chatsworth insurance agent convicted along with his wife of murdering her former husband, then collecting a $1.1 million life insurance payout, was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday.

Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen rejected last-minute appeals by Matthew Fletcher's lawyer for a retrial, calling Fletcher a ``callous'' individual who failed to sway the court.

Appearing calm in his orange jail jumpsuit, Fletcher urged the court to reconsider.

``I can't show remorse for something I'm not guilty of,'' he said, his eyes briefly tearing up. ``I don't believe the system worked this time.''

Matthew and Jennifer Fletcher were married with two daughters, and were living in a $1 million home in a gated community when they were arrested in 2002 for the slaying of Joel Andrew Shanbrom five years earlier.

Defense attorney Richard Raynor contended that a third party killed the Los Angeles Unified School District police officer in 1998, and on Thursday he called a Death Row inmate to the stand to support his claim.

The inmate testified that two people who were never summoned as witnesses in the Fletchers' trail were responsible for the slaying - testimony that Coen called ``absolutely unworthy of belief.''

Shanbrom's family members expressed relief that the case was coming to a close.

``We have been living a horrific nightmare for seven years,'' Karen Shanbrom, the officer's sister, told the court. ``This will hopefully end this miserable chapter in our lives.''

A jury convicted the Fletchers of murder, conspiracy and insurance fraud after a four-month trial in San Fernando Superior Court last year.

Jennifer Fletcher is expected to be sentenced today.

Shanbrom and his wife had been struggling financially when they met Matthew Fletcher at an insurance convention. He convinced them to join his insurance company, but Jennifer and Matthew Fletcher began a torrid love affair.

Seven months before Shanbrom's death, he and Fletcher signed a $500,000 life insurance policy. Jennifer also reinstated a policy on Shanbrom without his knowledge.

On March 18, 1998, Jennifer's mother found Shanbrom's body in the den of his home, slumped on a couch in front of the television, fatally shot in the head. Jennifer told police she had been upstairs with her son Jacob when she heard the commotion.

Rachel Uranga, (818) 713-3741

rachel.uranga(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 3, 2005
Words:388
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