A 28-year-old Rhinelander woman convicted of soliciting a hitman to murder her husband was sentenced Thursday to two years in prison.
Megan Danielczak will also serve six years on extended supervision following her no contest plea Feb. 26 to one count of solicitation of first-degree intentional homicide.
According to the criminal complaint and sentencing statements Thursday, Danielczak agreed to pay a hitman (who was actually an agent with the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation) approximately $5,000 (to be paid for with cash and two rings) to kill her husband. According to court testimony Thursday, Danielczak suggested the hitman run her husband off the road or make it appear as if he fell through the ice while fishing, but she did not want the murder to be gory or be witnessed by the couple's children.
(According to the complaint, a confidential informant alerted police that Danielczak was seeking someone to kill her husband. Law enforcement then arranged for DCI agent to pose as a potential hitman and took Danielczak's husband into protective custody).
In arguing for a prison sentence, Oneida County assistant district attorney Mary Sowinski focused on the calculated nature of the crime.
The prosecutor noted Danielczak had several opportunities to put a stop to the plot but she never turned back. Sowinski also noted Danielczak planned to use her husband's family heirlooms (the two rings) to pay for his murder and was simultaneously organizing the murder plot and a birthday party for one of the couple's young children.
Next to speak was Danielczak's soon-to-be exhusband. (Divorce proceedings are underway).
His head bent and his voice choked with emotion, he expressed intense pain and confusion.
"I would have done anything for you and in return you tried to end my life," he said.
In his sentencing argument, defense attorney Jon Padgham stressed Danielczak's complete lack of a criminal record, very strong work history and solid support system.
"Am I asking you to make a hard decision, absolutely sir, but it's the right decision," Padgham said, referring to choosing a jail sentence over a prison term.
He described Danielczak as a "lonely, isolated and broken" woman trapped in a dysfunctional relationship who still does not fully understand how she got to a point where she was attempting to arrange the murder of her husband.
Given her chance to speak, a tearful Danielczak apologized for the "hurt, pain, shame and embarrassment" she has caused her family and her husband's family.
"I was lost and desperate. I got sucked into this nightmare," she added. "I still feel like I'm stuck in bad dream and can't wake up. I still don't know how I got to this place."
After calling her behavior "inexcusable," Danielczak apologized directly to her estranged husband.
"I'm sorry I hurt you, your family and our boys," she said. "You are a good dad and I'm so glad they'll have you. I truly hope one day you can forgive me."
Before pronouncing sentence, Oneida County Circuit Court Judge Patrick O'Melia acknowledged that Danielczak has many positive qualities and noted that he received a number of letters from her supporters.
The letters, he said, describe a completely different person from the woman who plotted to kill her husband.
"Hearing the arguments and reading the letters, it seems like we have two different personalities going on here, and one is totally unrelated to the other," the judge said. "It's really hard to reconcile."
" (You're) a loving mother but you were going to take some other mother's son away forever," the judge said. "(You're) a loving mother (caring for your children) but you were going to take their father away forever."
O'Melia agreed with the defense that the crime was unsophisticated.
"Is it unsophisticated? Hell yes, but thank God it was unsophisticated otherwise he'd be dead," the judge said, referring the victim. "You said you were sucked into bad movie, the facts suggest you were the director of the movie."
In the end, the judge determined anything less than a prison term would unduly depreciate the seriousness of the offense.
"I'm concerned about the criminal thinking that you had," he said. "(It was) unsophisticated but you did many things to accomplish this all while having this facade of normalcy."
Danielczak faced a maximum of 12 years in prison on the Class F felony.
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