A Leavenworth woman has been sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison for beating her 85-year-old mother to death with a mallet last July.
District Judge Gunnar Sundby sentenced Victoria A. Smith, 60, in Leavenworth County District Court on Friday for second-degree murder in the death of Anna Maria Higgins. Smith originally was charged with premeditated first-degree murder but last month pleaded no contest to second-degree murder.
On Friday, Sundby denied a motion by Smith’s defense to allow her to withdraw her plea. The judge called Smith’s motion “a situation of buyer’s remorse.”
Smith lived in a home owned by her mother in the 1000 block of Sixth Avenue. Leavenworth police said they went to the house on July 3, 2016, after receiving several 911 calls. When they arrived, they found Smith screaming that she had killed someone. Higgins was found dead at the scene.
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Smith later admitted to being startled when she was awakened by Higgins. She said she struck her mother with a flashlight in the bedroom doorway, then moved her to the living room and struck her several more times with the 3-pound mallet, according to Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson.
The Leavenworth Times reported that at Friday’s sentencing, Smith told the court she had heard footsteps and initially attacked her mother with a flashlight, thinking she was an intruder. Once she realized it was her mother, Smith said, she “snapped.”
Smith said she believed she should be sentenced only for manslaughter, not second-degree murder.
But Thompson told The Star last month that Smith knew the person she had beaten was her mother and not an intruder.
“I can’t explain why she beat her to death,” he said. “What the facts showed was that she hit her mother with a flashlight ... and once she realized what she did, she finished killing her mom.”