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Wife accused in murder-for-hire plot

TAMPA — One morning in June 2007, Cristie Sehorne called police to say she found her husband, Thomas, dead behind the Lithia home they once shared.

Now, almost four years later, she's accused of his murder.

So are two others — the man she went on to marry and the man prosecutors say the couple paid to pull the trigger.

Thomas Sehorne, 37, was an aspiring tugboat captain who spent much of his time working as a first mate. He and his wife were estranged when he died. They shared a 6-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl.

And the wife had a boyfriend. Federal prosecutors say that in the months before the husband's death, the wife and the boyfriend, Jerry Bottorff, approached a man they knew was a former member of the Latin Kings gang and offered to pay him $60,000 of the $1 million she'd get from life insurance.

That man, Michael A. Garcia, recruited another, Luis Angel Lopez. Prosecutors say the two waited at Sehorne's home while he was out taking someone to the airport. Lopez hid under a van.

Sehorne got home, parked and was walking to the door when Lopez shot him in the chest and then in the head, prosecutors said.

Sehorne and Bottorff married a year after her husband's death. She now goes by Cristie Bottorff.

Garcia was not indicted in the case — he is serving a 210-month sentence in prison for conspiring to distribute cocaine and ecstasy. Before Garcia was sentenced, the prosecutor in the Sehorne case, Jeffrey Downing, told a judge Garcia had offered "substantial assistance to the United States."

Court documents don't detail the assistance but show that a judge considered it when giving the sentence.

The three others face federal murder-for-hire charges. If convicted on all counts, they could face life in prison or death.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at azayas@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3354.

Wife accused in murder-for-hire plot 05/24/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 11:18am]
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