|Inmate Vying for Life Insurance From Prison|
|By Arizona Daily Star|
An Arizona woman who was accused of plotting to kill her estranged husband for his financial assets is trying to collect on his life insurance policy from prison, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.
Pennsylvania-based Life Insurance Company of North America has filed suit against Teresa Imel, who is serving a 28-year sentence in the July 1999 death of her husband, Kurt Imel. The lawsuit says Teresa Imel 'refuses to disclaim her rights to any proceeds under the policy.' The complaint also names the murder victim's father, Ed Imel, who is the intended beneficiary of the $200,000 policy.
While Ed Imel has already received the first half of the claim, the insurance company is asking for guidance in determining who should receive the remaining $100,000, the lawsuit shows.
'Had she not been accused and convicted of bringing about his demise, she would have gotten the other half automatically, but since she has been convicted of manslaughter, the question is whether she is disqualified from receiving those proceeds,'' said Roger Henderson, a University of Arizona law professor.
Arizona is a community property state, and so under state law anything created during the marriage is owned equally. Henderson said the question is whether a conviction of manslaughter will disqualify her since the law specifies an 'intentional' killing and manslaughter is defined as 'recklessly causing the death of another person.'
Divorce proceedings were under way in June 1999 when Kurt Imel dropped his wife's name from the policy.
A month later, before the divorce was final, Imel was killed by a brain-damaged man reportedly hired by Teresa Imel, her daughter, Tiffanie, and her daughter's former boyfriend, Troy Bertling.
Daniel Ray Averett attacked Imel as he arrived at the Tucson Mountains home he once shared with his family. Prosecutors said the women and Bertling orchestrated Kurt Imel's slaying in hopes of collecting his assets and preserving a lifestyle centered around methamphetamine abuse.
Teresa Imel was charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, but was convicted of manslaughter. She later pleaded guilty to a drug-related charge in exchange for the state's dropping the conspiracy charge, and is serving her term in the Arizona State Prison at Perryville, west of Phoenix.
The three other defendants are also serving prison terms.
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