A Stafford County woman was formally sentenced yesterday to life in prison for killing her husband as part of a failed insurance scam.
Erin McCay George, 34, received the same sentence from Judge Ann Hunter Simpson that a jury recommended in June after finding her guilty of first-degree murder and using a firearm in the commission of a felony.
James George, 27, was found dead in his yard outside the couple's Aquia Harbour home early on May 24, 2001. He had been shot in the back of the head with a 9 mm weapon.
During his wife's five-day trial, prosecutors convinced the jury that Erin George killed her husband in an attempt to collect a $700,000 insurance policy and to get out of an unhappy marriage.
The evidence showed that Erin George forged her husband's signature on paperwork for the policy, which was purchased from a San Antonio, Texas, company.
James George had stopped the application process a short time earlier, after learning it was going to cost considerably more because he was a smoker.
Witnesses said Erin George called the company just a day or two before her husband's death to make sure the life-insurance policy was in effect.
Other prosecution evidence included proof that in May 1997 Erin George purchased a gun and ammunition similar to that which killed her husband. Two jail inmates testified that George confessed to the slaying.
Defense attorney Mark Gardner argued that police focused solely on his client and failed to investigate other possibilities.
Erin George did not testify, but she and family members have consistently maintained that she wasn't the killer.
James George was a citizen of England who met his wife on the Internet. They had three young children.
James George was a computer technician at the Fred Ezra commercial real-estate company in Bethesda, Md. He was well-liked at his job, and a number of his coworkers sat through the entire trial to show their support for his family.
Gardner yesterday unsuccessfully tried to persuade Simpson to reduce his client's sentence. He said something closer to the 23-year minimum sentence would be more appropriate.
Prosecutor Jim Peterson, of course, disagreed.
"This was one of the most calculated and cold-blooded murders that we've seen in a long time," Peterson said. "To her, this was nothing but a financial transaction."