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A Virginia woman accused of gunning down her mother and sister and staging their deaths as a suicide at the family home more than four years ago was convicted on Monday, officials announced.
She’d pleaded not guilty in the double murder and maintained her innocence throughout her trial, insisting instead that Helen Hargan shot and killed their mother before turning the gun on herself at the family’s luxury Virginia residence on July 14, 2017. Megan Hargan claimed her dead sister and mother were involved in a dispute over Helen's alleged drug use and a home purchase.
Pamela Hargan and all the shell casings at the scene were reportedly found in the home's laundry room, D.C. Fox affiliate WTTG reported. Helen Hargan was found dead at the scene in the home’s bathroom with a .22 caliber rifle positioned between her legs, barrel up, D.C. NBC affiliate WRC-TV reported — but prosecutors noted that the gunshot wound that killed her was to the top of her head, not under her chin, the station reported.
Prosecutors argued Megan Hargan carried out the brutal act after her mother refused to make a $400,000 wire transfer for a house she wanted to purchase, and killed her sister after the she witnessed the murder of their mother.
Helen Hargan's boyfriend, Carlos Gutierrez, testified that that Helen had called him before she died to tell him that she'd witnessed Megan kill their mother. Megan testified that the call was part of Helen's efforts to frame her before committing suicide, which she claimed Helen did by holding the long rifle to the top of her head and firing it with her toes while wearing socks.
The jury didn't buy it and, after convicting her, recommended that Megan Hargan receive two life sentences.
“We in Fairfax County have no tolerance for such disregard for human life and I am committed to addressing crimes of this magnitude with the seriousness they merit,” Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney Steve Descano said in a statement on Monday. We will be asking for a substantial sentence that reflects the seriousness of the crime.”
Descano described the case as a “tragedy all for money.”
“Obviously, committing a murder is one of the worst things you can do, but then also trying to pin that on another victim — on your own sister — really goes to show, quite frankly, the depravity of this act,” he added.
Megan Hargan was arrested in November 2018 following an elaborate 16-month investigation. She was subsequently indicted on murder charges by a multi-jurisdictional grand jury.
“This defendant took that .22-caliber rifle and killed Pamela Hargan and Helen Hargan,” Tyler Bezilla, a senior assistant to the Fairfax commonwealth’s attorney, previously told jurors at the trial’s opening statements, WRC-TV reported. “And I’m going to ask you to find her guilty.”
Megan Hargan’s defense team, meanwhile, argued that Helen Hargan was the one who pulled the trigger both times, stating that the 24-year-old was distraught after her mother went back on plans to turn over a property to her. Megan Hargan’s lawyers argued that Helen Hargan was also angry that Pamela Hargan disapproved of her boyfriend.
Under police questioning, other family members had said that Pamela Hargan had suspected Helen Hargan was using drugs, and noted that the 24-year-old had previously attempted to kill herself.
Megan Hargan’s other sister, Ashley Hargan, testified against her sibling during the murder trial, noting she hasn’t been able to sleep in nearly half a decade.
“My son is going to grow up without knowing a grandmother or aunt,” Ashley Hargan said, WRC-V reported. "He’s robbed of that.”
Hargan is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 28.
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