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IN BRIEF / SANTA BARBARA

Woman Sentenced in Smothering Attempt

October 25, 2003|From Times Wire Reports

A woman who tried to suffocate an 86-year-old woman after stealing about $40,000 was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison.

Barbara Rena Tate Thomas, 42, was sentenced Thursday by Superior Court Judge Brian Hill. The 24 years and four months in prison were part of her deal to plead no contest to 19 felony counts, including attempted murder, burglary, forgery and theft.

While trying to smother Theresa Boyce with a pillow as the victim slept on a recliner, Thomas "recognized the wrongfulness of [the act] and changed her mind, something we are all thankful for," the judge said.

There was no comment from Thomas, whose history of theft crimes and prison terms date to 1985.

Thomas, a friend of an in-home caregiver for the elderly woman, confessed to police on Jan. 2 that she tried to smother Boyce on Dec. 23. She forged checks and used Boyce's credit cards over a seven-month period.

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