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WOMAN CONVICTED IN 1997 SLAYING OF BOYFRIEND DEFENDANT FACES LIFE BEHIND BARS FOR HIRING MAN TO CARRY OUT SLAYING IN LANCASTER.

Byline: KAREN MAESHIRO

Staff Writer

A 26-year-old woman who was 16 when her boyfriend was beaten with a claw hammer and shot to death in their Lancaster apartment bedroom has been convicted of murder in his slaying.

Amy Lynn Preasmyer was found guilty Monday of soliciting a man to kill Ricky Cowles Jr. in 1997 because he got her pregnant and ruined her life, prosecutors said.

"She had reached a point, I believe, where in her own words, she blamed the victim for the pregnancy and basically told other people he had ruined her birthday and ruined her life," Deputy District Attorney Michael Blake said. "There was other evidence she despised the victim. By August 1997, she is actively looking for someone to kill him."

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated more than two weeks before finding Preasmyer guilty of murder with the special-circumstance allegations of lying in wait, conspiracy and solicitation of murder.

Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty so Preasmyer faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. Preasmyer's attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

Preasmyer had told investigators that she arrived home an hour after the murder and found the victim lying in their bedroom, shot in the head.

The killer, former store clerk William Hoffman, already is serving a life sentence in prison for killing Cowles. He had testified at his trial that another man was to blame.

But in 2002, Hoffman sent a letter to the victim's family disavowing his prior testimony and confessed to his part in the murder, Blake said.

"It was basically his conscience. He testified he had become a Christian and how he was gravely remorseful for what he had done and was trying to make it right as best he could," Blake said.

Preasmyer, Jennifer Kellogg, 28, who lived with Preasmyer and Cowles in the Gadsden Avenue apartment, and David Ashbury, 29, were charged in the case in 2005.

Kellogg is awaiting trial, and Ashbury was sentenced last year to two years in prison for being an accessory in the murder.

Blake said Hoffman studied the victim's movements and patterns of routine with the help of Preasmyer and Kellogg, who brought him to the apartment before the murder.

"The girls suggested hiding places and how to commit the murder. Because they believed the victim would fight back, it was decided Hoffman would disable him and shoot him," Blake said.

At the time of Hoffman's trial in 1999, prosecutors couldn't establish a clear motive for the killing. Hoffman did not know Cowles, a young electrician who worked for his family's business, and officials said at the time that he may have been persuaded by someone else to kill Cowles.

Witnesses testified during the trial that Hoffman told them he killed Cowles for Cowles' girlfriend, but she denied having anything to do with his death.

Sheriff's deputies said the killer was waiting for Cowles inside his apartment in the 43400 block of Gadsden Avenue. Cowles arrived shortly after 9 p.m., after working late fixing lights at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds.

Family members and detectives said nothing inside the home had been touched or taken, and there was no obvious sign of forced entry.

Family members said Cowles had moved into the apartment a month earlier with his girlfriend, who was 15 weeks pregnant at the time of his death.

karen.maeshiro@dailynews.com

(661) 267-5744
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 1, 2007
Words:569
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