A former Austin, Texas, police officer will spend the rest of his life in prison for hiring two men to kill his pregnant girlfriend after the woman refused to have an abortion.
VonTrey Clark, 35, was sentenced on Monday in the 2015 murder of his ex-girlfriend, Samantha Dean. Clark initially pleaded not guilty and faced possible execution if convicted, but reversed course and signed a written confession last week. Prosecutors said he also waived his right to appeal the conviction, as part of the agreement.
Dean, 29, who was seven months pregnant, was shot three times in the head, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com. Her body was found behind an empty shopping center 25 miles southeast of Austin on Feb. 3, 2015.
Clark admitted to police that he was dating Dean, and that she was carrying his child.
He later fled to Indonesia, allegedly after learning the scope of the murder case against him. Months later, he was detained on visa-related issues by Indonesian authorities and extradited back to the U.S. to face charges, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Clark, who had a family of his own, put a hit out on his pregnant girlfriend because she refused to get an abortion, according to court documents obtained by Oxygen.com.
Bastrop County District Attorney Bryan Goertz called it a “rather anticlimactic” conclusion to the high-profile case.
“There were no real winners, just lots of loss, you know?” Goertz told Oxygen.com. “Hopefully it helps the victims with the healing process.”
“This was a particularly heinous and utterly heartbreaking crime — to execute a woman and your own unborn daughter just because she wanted to give birth to your baby is beyond comprehension,” Goertz said in an earlier statement to the press.
On Dec. 13, Clark finally came clean in a signed confession, which prosecutors read aloud before his sentencing this week.
“She did not want to terminate the pregnancy even though I wanted her to,” Clark wrote in the confession, obtained by Oxygen.com. “I felt the pregnancy threatened my existing family.”
Clark confessed to enlisting his friend Kevin Watson to help coordinate Dean's murder in an attempt to shield his family from the truth. The two friends later paid a man named Freddie Smith to carry out the pregnant woman’s execution.
“We made plans to kill Samantha and communicated the details over burner phones purchased by Watson,” Clark wrote. “When it became clear that neither of us could kill her ourselves, Watson connected me with Freddie Smith, who agreed to kill and did kill Samantha Dean in exchange for a fee.”
Clark told Dean he had a friend or family member who needed a ride into Austin. He then had Dean drive him to the shopping center where the woman’s killer was lying in wait. Following the murder, the crew planted marijuana in Dean’s car to make it look like a “drug deal gone bad,” according to his confession.
Watson and Smith have both also been indicted in Dean’s murder. Watson pleaded guilty to murder in September and is expected to spend 35 years in prison. However, part of his plea agreement stipulates he must first testify against Smith, who’s believed to have been the triggerman in Dean’s slaying. A trial date hasn’t yet been set for Smith’s case, according to officials.
Dean, who was originally from San Antonio, was a cancer survivor, who held a master’s degree in forensic psychology.
“I still think about Wednesday, Feb. 4, every single day,” Kimberly Dean, the woman’s mother, told the court on Monday, according to the Statesman.
While reading from a letter, she directly addressed a shackled Clark and rarely broke eye contact, the Statesman reported.
“You took away everything when you took Sammy,” she said.
The woman’s younger sister said that Clark robbed her family of “future memories.”
“The one person that I can turn to for moral advice or support is gone, thanks to you,” Taylor Dean said. “You stole my favorite person.”
The woman’s family said she had planned to name her unborn child Madeline. The day before her murder, they said, Dean was shopping for a child’s car seat.
“You stole an innocent child, you stole my niece,” Taylor Dean also said.
Clark’s attorney, Bristol Myers, declined to comment on his client’s sentencing on Tuesday.
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