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Chatsworth Couple Guilty of Murder

Jury finds that the pair killed the woman's husband to collect insurance money.

August 10, 2004|Jean-Paul Renaud | Times Staff Writer

A Chatsworth couple accused of killing the woman's then-husband were found guilty Monday of first-degree murder, conspiracy and insurance fraud.

A San Fernando jury took seven days to find that Matthew Fletcher, 45, and Jennifer Fletcher, 34, conspired to kill her previous husband, Joel Andrew Shanbrom, a Los Angeles Unified School District police officer, in order to collect more than $1 million in insurance money.

Matthew Fletcher, an employee for one of the companies that insured Shanbrom, also was found guilty of bigamy.

On March 18, 1998, Jennifer Shanbrom told Los Angeles police detectives that her husband was killed during a home-invasion robbery at their Northridge home. Police said she had told them that she managed to escape harm by hiding with the couple's then 3-year-old son.

But detectives said they were immediately suspicious of her account and began to review the Shanbroms' financial records.

She and Matthew Fletcher were married less than six months later, while Fletcher was still married to a previous wife.

The pair were accused of murder four years after Shanbrom's death.

"It was an extremely difficult case," Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael R. Powell said. "It took a long time for all the pieces to come together. It was a very complex case in the sense that it required the jury to be highly attentive."

Prosecutors said the Fletchers will probably be sentenced to life in prison without parole on Sept. 24.

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