US draft law would target spouses who hire hit men.
SACRAMENTO, California: The story behind the legislation reads like a movie pitch.
The wife of a Southern California police detective, distraught because she had lost custody of her children, tries to hire a hit man from the Vagos motorcycle gang to kill him.
Instead, gang members alert police, who disguise themselves as biker thugs and secretly tape a conversation with her, leading to the wife's arrest and ultimate conviction for solicitation of murder.
But later on, in divorce court, she is awarded half the couple's property, even though she tried to have her husband killed. He then calls Sacramento, determined to change the divorce law.
A bill scheduled to be heard Tuesday in a state legislative committee seeks to close what its author says is a loophole in the state's no-fault divorce code. In part, the legislation will specify that spouses who solicit the murder of their husband or wife are not entitled to collect financial rewards in divorce proceedings.
The bill was prompted by John Pomroy, a police detective in Pomona, about 50 kilometers east of Los Angeles. His wife collected about $70,000 from their estate after she was released from prison in 2004.
State law says that if spouses are convicted of murdering or attempting to murder their husband or wife, they are not entitled to reap any financial benefits during divorce proceedings. But if they hire someone else to do the dirty deed for them, their victims' assets are not protected.
The bill would amend the law to include husbands or wives who solicit the murder of their spouse.
Divorce laws vary from state to state. In California, a couple's shared assets are generally split evenly during a divorce.
That's the case in most states, said Krystal Callaway Jaime, supervising attorney for the Family Protection Clinic at the University of California, Davis.
After being married for a decade, Pomroy said his marriage dissolved when his wife became addicted to pain killers after injuring her foot in a dirt bike accident. She later turned to alcohol, and finally illegal drugs, he said.
He said they separated when she became physically abusive.
He lived in the basement of the police department for a month after moving out of the couple's house and later gained custody of their children.
When his wife faced losing the children and her husband's monetary support, she solicited members of the Vagos motorcycle gang living down the street. She said she wanted them to kill her husband while he was on duty, Pomroy said.
The San Bernardino County district attorney's office said Pomroy's ex-wife pleaded guilty to soliciting others to murder her husband in early 2003.
An official at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla on Friday said Pomroy's ex-wife entered the prison in February 2003 and served time until she was paroled in March 2004.
She was returned to prison twice since then and is currently on parole, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly but relayed the details of the woman's corrections department record.
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|Publication:||The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)|
|Date:||Jun 16, 2010|
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