MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — Julia Merfeld learned Tuesday that she would serve at least five years and eight months in prison.
She pleaded guilty to trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband, Jacob Merfeld, because she wanted to collect on his $400,000 life insurance policy.
Media from all over the world swarmed the Muskegon County courtroom for that sentencing.
Merfeld spoke when given the opportunity.
“Fortunately, the two people who matter most have already forgiven. My husband, who actually sits behind me right now has already forgiven me, and the second is God,” she said
She offered expressions of caring and concern for the father of her children, who just months ago, she plotted to have shot in the head.
In April, during a meeting with someone she thought was a hit man, Merfeld talked at length about the method and time for the murder.
“[Killing him] was easier than, as terrible as it sounds, it was easier than divorcing him. I didn’t have to deal with the judgment of my family. I didn’t have to worry about breaking his heart,” she told the undercover state police officer.
In court Tuesday, Merfeld told the judge, “Honestly, it could have been worse. The crime that I attempted could have been carried out.”
“That alone is the worst punishment anyone should ever have to endure, and I will endure it for the rest of my life every single day.”
She quoted a Bible verse from Psalm 119 67:71.
“It says, ‘Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now have I kept they word. It is good for me that I have been afflicted that I might learn thy statutes.’”
Merfeld added, “I completely and wholeheartedly agree with that.”
She once laughed at luring Jacob Merfeld outside to clean her car to set up the hit. Today, though, he sat in the courtroom right beside Julia’s parents in solidarity.
Jacob Merfeld addressed the judge, saying, “I whole-heartedly forgive my wife for all she has done in this act of hatred. I know that, uh, my wife is a wonderful person.”
He continued, “She’s a Godly woman, even so much more so now than she ever has been, and I know that this is a crime that is on top of the list of most evil or non-Godly things you can probably do.”
“I’m sure as you know, we have two young children. She’s been nothing but a great mother to them.”
Merfeld’s sentence carries a maximum of 20 years.