Lights & Sirens

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Tacoma woman gets 10 years in murder of mother-in-law

Post by Adam Lynn / The News Tribune on April 20, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
April 20, 2011 12:10 pm

A Tacoma woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder in the shooting death of her mother-in-law, whose body was discovered stuffed in the crawl space of her home.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Frank Cuthbertson sentenced Austa Marie Bienville to 10 years, three months in prison in the death of Laurinda Hughes, 65.

Hughes’ body was discovered wrapped in a carpet in April 2010. She’d been shot once in the chest.

Bienville told police her husband, Thomas Al Bienville, shot his mother to death after she refused to provide access codes to her bank accounts, court records state.

Bank surveillance footage shows the couple trying unsuccessfully to access Hughes’ accounts through an ATM not long after medical examiners believe she died, the records show.

Thomas Bienville also pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case. He is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole under the state’s “three strikes you’re out” law.

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