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Teacher's Aide Faces 2 More Charges

March 25, 1989|ERIC BAILEY | Times Staff Writer

Prosecutors filed two more charges Friday against an Escondido high school teacher's aide suspected of hiring two 15-year-old boys to kill her estranged husband.

In a brief hearing at Vista Municipal Court, prosecutors charged Roberta Pearce, 41, with initially asking a different pair of students to carry out the slaying.

Tim Casserly, the deputy district attorney handling the case, said the two teen-agers, who refused Pearce's solicitation, made the accusations in interviews conducted by detectives during the slaying investigation.

Pearce's attorney, William Fletcher of Carlsbad, said the two new counts will not amount to much "in the grand scheme of things." He said Pearce is innocent of all the charges.

"The only thing this does is bring in two additional juveniles who said this subject was discussed with them," Fletcher said. "That's the only significance this has."

Casserly and Fletcher also agreed Friday to delay the preliminary hearing, which had been scheduled for Monday, until April 25.

A teacher's aide for students with learning disabilities at Orange Glen High School, Pearce is already charged with hiring two youths from the school to carry out the Jan. 31 slaying of her husband, Robert (Wayne) Pearce, 40.

Wayne Pearce was attacked by two assailants wielding a knife and hatchet in the parking lot of the Cardiff apartment complex where he lived after separating from his wife over Thanksgiving.

Authorities contend the wife wanted him dead so she could collect more than $200,000 in life insurance money and would not lose her Valley Center house in the divorce.

Pearce promised her cars to the two teen-age suspects as payment for carrying out the slaying, court documents filed in the case allege.

The two boys face a readiness hearing in Juvenile Court April 5. Since both were not 16, they cannot be tried as adults and face a maximum sentence of incarceration in the California Youth Authority until age 25.

Pearce, meanwhile, could face the death penalty if authorities choose to pursue special-circumstances charges because she stood to gain financially from her husband's death.

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