TWIN FALLS, Idaho – A former nurse convicted of killing her estranged husband's former girlfriend with a lethal injection is asking a judge to be cleared of paying the victim's funeral costs and benefits for the victim's daughter.
Vicki Arlene Jensen, 39, of Gooding, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison in the 1999 slaying of Aleta Diane Ray, a case prosecutors and judges have called one of the most horrific murders in Twin Falls County.
Before the slaying, Jensen's husband — Vern Jensen — was living with Ray and her daughter.
Jensen and two disguised accomplices fooled Ray into letting them into her home, where Jensen gave Ray, with a gun held to her head, a lethal injection of methamphetamine and insulin. The crime was witnessed by Ray's 3-year-old daughter.
Jensen recruited her niece, Autumn Pauls, now 24, who was tried as an adult, and Matthew W. Pearson, now 27, to help in the killing. All were convicted of first-degree murder. Jensen received a life sentence in 2001, but Pearson is eligible for parole in 2015; Pauls in 2012.
At sentencing, the judge called Jensen the evil mastermind of a perverse and horrendous crime.
The Idaho Industrial Commission paid out $22,500 for Ray's funeral and child benefits, and prosecutors say Jensen, Pearson and Pauls all must pay that money back.
Prosecutor Grant Loebs says Pauls and Pearson have no known objections to repaying the sum, but Jensen is seeking relief.
She filed an objection after discovering the state was deducting money from per prison account, saying she'll never be able to pay off the debt. Court records don't indicate how much the state is subtracting each month, but Jensen says she makes only 20 cents per hour working in prison.
Loebs says Jensen's gripes are irrelevant.
"Pay as much as you can," Loebs told the Times-News Friday. "This is the type of debt that can never be repaid, obviously, in terms of money. And I find it kind of disturbing that someone would think they shouldn't have to pay it."
Jensen will get a chance to make a case in court after a judge's ruling. The 5th District Court judge scheduled the Dec. 15 hearing because the Jensen didn't get proper notice from the state about the payments.
"It took a while to get the official order drafted," Loebs said. "She knew restitution was something we'd ask for."