The Washington State Court of Appeals has declined to reduce the 13-year sentence of a Gig Harbor woman convicted of trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband, but the court did give Karen Lofgren a bit of relief.
In a decision released this week, the three-judge panel from Division II wiped out a lower court’s order that forbade Lofgren from ever again having contact with her two daughters, 8 and 10.
Appellate Judge Linda Lee, writing for the unanimous panel, said Superior Court Judge Katherine Stolz overstepped her authority when she imposed the lifetime no-contact orders during Lofgren’s sentencing on Jan. 26, 2013.
“In summary, we conclude that the lifetime orders barring Lofgren from all contact with her children were not reasonably necessary to protect the children from harm,” Lee wrote.
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What contact Lofgren can have with her daughters is best left up to the judge overseeing the divorce proceedings between Lofgren and her husband, Todd Hardin, Lee added.
Lofgren, 50, pleaded guilty in December 2012 to solicitation of second-degree murder.
Prosecutors alleged she used an acquaintance as a go-between to hire someone she thought was a Mexican gangster to kill her husband. The acquaintance went to police, and the paid killer Lofgren later met with turned out to be an undercover sheriff’s detective.
Lofgren and Hardin were embroiled in an acrimonious divorce at the time, with both parties accusing the other of unfair tactics.
The divorce was finalized in April 2013, and Hardin was given full custody and decision-making powers for the children. Judge Elizabeth Martin cited Lofgren’s criminal conviction and the lifetime no-contact order in her findings.
Martin did note that Lofgren’s rights to see or correspond with her children could be addressed again if the no-contact orders entered in the criminal case were terminated.
Deputy prosecutor Angelica Williams argued for a high-end sentence of 13 years and the lifetime ban on Lofgren seeing her children, saying the defendant had put her girls in danger by engaging in a murder-for-hire plot.
Defense attorney Wayne Fricke argued for a 2-year sentence and against any no-contact orders with the children, saying Lofgren loved her daughters and had done nothing to put them in danger.
Stolz sided with Williams.
The appellate panel split the difference, affirming Lofgren’s sentence but ruling Hardin was the real target of the plot and the one at risk, not the couple’s daughters.
The court left a lifetime no-contact order between Lofgren and Hardin in place.