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WOMAN SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR MURDER.

Byline: Karen Maeshiro Daily News Staff Writer

After temporarily changing her mind about her no contest plea to a murder charge, a Phelan woman has been sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for fatally shooting her former boyfriend.

Cheri Mathews, 38, was sent off to prison Tuesday, but only after she said she wanted to withdraw her plea bargain, then decided she wanted to stick to it after all.

``Apparently she had heard in jail that she could have perhaps gotten a better deal,'' said Deputy Public Defender Manuel Martinez. ``She came to understand the deal that she got was a good deal considering all the circumstances, and she went ahead and accepted her fate.''

Mathews had wanted to withdraw from her plea bargain when she thought a sentence of 15 years to life was excessive, said Deputy District Attorney John Portillo.

The case was returned to Municipal Court, where she had initially entered her plea, so that the judge could decide whether she was entitled to withdraw the plea.

Another attorney, William Clark, was called in, and he advised Mathews that she could be sentenced to 40 to 50 years in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. Mathews then chose to proceed with sentencing on the no-contest plea for fatally shooting David Hepburn on Nov. 19 at his isolated ranch in Llano. The shooting stemmed from a quarrel about Mathews' jewelry and other belongings that Hepburn refused to return, authorities said.

Mathews said Hepburn claimed to have connections to a Mexican mafia and threatened to have her killed.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 31, 1998
Words:261
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