FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. – Lois Riess will spend the rest of her life in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to murdering a Florida woman in April 2018.
Riess pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with a firearm, grand theft of a motor vehicle, grand theft and criminal use of personal identification information of a deceased individual, according to the 20th Judicial Circuit Administrative Office of the Courts in Florida.
She was scheduled to appear in Lee County Court for a pretrial hearing but instead her defense team announced that Riess was withdrawing her not guilty pleas and pleading guilty to the four charges , Michael Braun of the News-Press of Fort Myers reported. Riess had been facing the possibility of the death penalty, but with the plea, the 20th Judicial Circuit state attorney's office withdrew the notice of intent to seek the death penalty. Riess was sentenced to life in prison instead.
Pamela Hutchinson, 59, of Bradenton, Fla., was found shot to death in a Fort Myers Beach timeshare on April 9, 2018.
"This was the way we thought we could resolve this case appropriately for the family to move on," Chief Assistant State Attorney Rich Montecalvo told the News-Press of Fort Myers. "Now, Ms. Riess can face her charges in Minnesota. The important thing to know is Ms. Riess will never see the light of day. A life sentence is a life sentence in Florida, so whatever happens in Minnesota is irrelevant to what happened here today."
In June 2018, a grand jury indicted Riess on the murder charges as well as stealing Hutchinson's car, and ID and withdrawing more than $6,000 from her bank account. Authorities believe Hutchinson was targeted because of her similar appearance to Riess. She was arrested on April 19, 2018, by U.S. marshals and police at a restaurant in South Padre Island, Texas, after leading authorities on a four-week, nationwide manhunt.
Riess was sought for questioning after her husband, David Riess, was found shot to death in the couple’s Blooming Prairie home in March 2018. In May, Riess was indicted in May by a Dodge County Grand Jury on charges of first-degree and second-degree murder.
During the hearing in Florida on Tuesday morning, Riess waived her extradition to Minnesota. An extradition request from Minnesota has been in place for sometime and Riess may be in the state to face the Dodge County charges within a month or two. The case is being prosecuted by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office. The News-Press reported that Riess may be housed in Minnesota after her trial there or could be brought back to Florida.