HOUSTON – Carolyn Krizan-Wilson had always been considered a suspect in her husband's 1985 shooting death in their Houston-area home.
Investigators never believed her story that a barefoot man who had raped her about a week before had somehow tracked her down and assaulted her again in her home before fatally shooting her sleeping spouse.
On Wednesday — 28 years after her husband's death — Krizan-Wilson pleaded guilty to murder in exchange for a six-month sentence and 10 years of probation. Her husband's family members said while they are not happy with the short sentence, they do feel some gratification that Krizan-Wilson has finally acknowledged her crime.
In the immediate aftermath of Roy McCaleb's slaying, authorities felt they didn't have enough evidence to charge her. Year after year, McCaleb's family kept after investigators.
In 2008, following a fresh review of the case, Krizan-Wilson was charged with murder. But a judge threw out the indictment. The charge was reinstated after an appeals court ruling in 2012, and the 71-year-old was finally set to go on trial next month before reaching the plea deal with prosecutors.
"I don't think justice was served. The only peace I get out of it is she finally admitted to what we knew she had done," said Pam Nalley, McCaleb's daughter.
Bill Exley, a prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney's Office, said various factors were considered in deciding on the deal: circumstantial evidence that never strengthened beyond the initial investigation; no other criminal history by Krizan-Wilson; and the defendant's health. Krizan-Wilson has Alzheimer's and dementia.
Exley said he explained the situation to McCaleb's family members and they expressed the importance of wanting Krizan-Wilson to acknowledge in court what she did.
James Stafford, Krizan-Wilson's attorney, did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday.
Exley said Krizan-Wilson's explanation of what happened the night of her husband's death never made sense.
Krizan-Wilson had claimed that on Sept. 22, 1985, while her husband, her son and her son's girlfriend were in the house, a homeless man who had carjacked and raped her 10 days earlier came to the home and assaulted her again.
She said the man then took a gun she kept under her pillow, went to a nearby bedroom where her husband was sleeping while recovering from neck surgery and shot the 51-year-old foreman for construction firm Brown & Root. Krizan-Wilson, who was 43 at the time, claimed the man dropped the gun after she bumped into him and she fired several times at him as he fled.
"It was just so bizarre," Exley said of Krizan-Wilson's story.
Nalley, 54, said her family found it hard to believe nobody else in the home was aware Krizan-Wilson was being assaulted or that the man happened to drop the gun before fleeing. Nalley also questioned why Krizan-Wilson took a shower before going to a hospital to have a rape kit performed when she was told not to shower.
While authorities never officially determined a motive, Nalley believes her father was killed for a $140,000 insurance policy. Nalley said she later learned the policy was never paid out but that Krizan-Wilson did get the couple's home and proceeds from her father's retirement account.
"My daddy was the life of the party. People were drawn to him," Nalley said. "He didn't think he was better than anybody else. He was a good man."
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