MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) - The woman who plotted to hire a hit man to kill her husband -- a plan caught on a video that went viral -- was sentenced to more than five years in prison Tuesday, despite pleas for leniency from her and from the intended target.
Julia Merfeld, 21, of Muskegon, was ordered to spend 5 years 8 months to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in the plot.
"She is a godly woman, even so much more so now than she ever has been," her husband, Jacob Merfeld, told the judge during the sentencing hearing. "I know that this is a crime that is on the top of the list of the most evil, non-godly things you could probably do."
That from a man whose wife -- the mother of his two young children -- wanted to kill him just months ago for a $400,000 life insurance payoff.
It was a plot caught on tape in April by the undercover cop posing as a hit man. She would pay him $50,000 -- with $100 down.
The video went viral; the plan went nowhere.
"If you could look in your heart today and just have mercy upon my wife so that she may not have to be away from me and my children for a long time," Jacob Merfeld said. "I know the young years of a child's life are the most important ones, and I'd like her to be there for every single second that she can."
As Julia Merfeld waited for her sentence, her hands cuffed in front of her, she turned to smile at her husband and her parents, who sat behind her. Her parents, who live in New Jersey, flew to Muskegon for the sentencing.
"My tears are not for your pity, your honor," Julia Merfeld told Chief Circuit Judge William C. Marietti. "My tears are for remorse. Fortunately the two people who matter most have already forgiven me -- my husband, who actually sits behind me right now and has already forgiven me, and the second is God."
==Watch: Julia and Jacob Merfeld address the court.==
It was the judge, though, whose mercy she wanted, as she appeared to read from note cards.
"Obviously, it could have been worse. The crime that I attempted could have been carried out and that alone obviously is the worst punishment anyone should have to endure, and I will endure it for the rest of my life every single day," she said. "I'm not asking for no punishment, your honor. I'm asking you to maybe consider my words and if you would find it in your heart to give me a little bit of a lighter one."
But prosecutors pushed for prison.
"It was as if she was ordering groceries or ordering something off the menu as she talked with the undercover officer," Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson told the judge. "I'm wondering how remorseful she would be had the plan actually been carried out and she had that $400,000 insurance settlement? How sad she would be at that point in time?"
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