BIRMINGHAM—A federal judge today sentenced a Columbiana woman to nine years in prison for conspiring with her daughter to hire someone to kill the daughter’s ex-husband, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Maley.
U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon sentenced Barbara Louise Patterson, 64, for plotting the murder-for-hire with her daughter, Kimberly Dawn McGuffie, in 2009 so that McGuffie could get custody of two children. The plan was to hire someone to murder Patterson’s former son-in-law with a poison cocktail of prescription medication supplied, in part, by Patterson. The judge ordered Patterson to be taken immediately into custody.
A federal jury convicted Patterson of the conspiracy in February. McGuffie, 44, of Calera, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy in December and admitted she had conspired with her mother in the murder-for-hire scheme. McGuffie did not testify in her mother’s trial. Judge Kallon sentenced McGuffie in May to 10 years in prison.
“The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, and the FBI came together in this case to work on information from an informant and stopped a plot from becoming a murder,” Vance said. “If this mother and daughter had allowed the child custody dispute at the base of this case to be worked out in court, they could be with the children they love, not locked inside a prison,” she said.
“I want to thank the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, and the FBI agents assigned to this investigation,” Maley said. “Thanks to their efforts, Ms. Patterson’s murderous plot was foiled, and she has been brought to justice for her crimes.”
The jury that convicted Patterson found that she supplied her daughter with tablets of the prescription drug Lexapro for use in a deadly cocktail intended for Patterson’s former son-in-law. Lexapro is a medication used to treat depression. According to testimony, Patterson called her doctor’s office on July 23, 2009, requested a prescription for Lexapro, and picked up 14 sample tablets, which she gave to her daughter.
According to court testimony, McGuffie and Patterson drove to a location near Columbiana in August 2009 to meet an acquaintance to again try to enlist him to help them kill the ex-husband. On September 8, 2009, the man, who had become a confidential informant to police, told McGuffie he had found someone to do the job and would introduce her to him that night.
Later that evening, McGuffie drove to a shopping center parking lot in Calera where she met an undercover officer posing as the hitman. She gave the hitman a small bag containing Lexapro, methadone, and Xanax, plus a key and a hand-drawn map to her ex-husband’s home. She also wrote the man a $1,000 check to cement her agreement to pay him for the murder.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, and the FBI investigated the case, which was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William G. Simpson.