The Utah Supreme Court Tuesday upheld the first-degree felony murder conviction of David Earl Mead.
Mead was convicted in 1998 of the drowning death of his wife, Pamela Camille Mead, and was sentenced to between five years to life in prison and up to 15 years for solicitation of murder, a second-degree felony.
Pamela Mead was found dead on Aug. 15, 1994, in a shallow fish pond in the back yard of her Capitol Hill home.
Prosecutors said that David Mead arranged his wife's death to collect on a $500,000 insurance policy.
His attorneys, Ron Yengich and Vanessa Ramos-Smith, appealed the conviction on 11 different points, most dealing with testimony from Mead's cousin and two "spurned lovers."
The cousin, James Hendrix, testified that about a week before Pamela Mead's death, David Mead sought him out, offered him money to kill his wife, and gave him money and cocaine as a down payment. But Hendrix spent the next two weeks on a drug binge and never made good on the bargain.
David Mead's attorneys said the jury should have been instructed that Hendrix, who faced robbery charges in a separate case, "had received certain promises from the prosecutor in exchange for his testimony."
Another witness for the prosecution, Winneteka Walls, testified she was David Mead's mistress and had threatened to send Pamela Mead a videotape of her and David Mead engaged in sex acts if he did not leave his wife. David Mead told her he would take care of the problem by staging a burglary at his house that would result in Pamela Mead suffering a "nasty spill."
Another former girlfriend, Stormy Simon, testified she dated David Mead until he told her he was married. Then, during a phone conversation overheard by Pamela Mead, David Mead told Simon he was unhappily married but that he would rather kill his wife and collect insurance money because otherwise he would lose his business.
David Mead's attorneys said the jury should have been told that the women's testimony could only be considered as "circumstantial evidence of motive and intent."
But the high court found 3rd District Judge J. Dennis Frederick had committed no reversible error during the trial and that there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's finding.Comment on this story
"The allegation that Mead was motivated to kill his wife for the life insurance money was bolstered by Mead's own prior statements and the fact that he began his efforts at recovering the insurance proceeds the day after his wife's death," wrote Justice Matthew B. Durrant.
Pamela Mead's family filed a wrongful-death action in federal court against David Mead to obtain the proceeds of her life insurance policy. That trial resulted in a hung jury, and the family reached a settlement.As part of his criminal sentence, Frederick ordered David Mead to repay any life-insurance money collected from his wife's death, plus $10,000 in restitution.