Margo Freshwater pleads guilty to 1966 Memphis murder

Margo Freshwater
Margo Freshwater

(AP) - A woman who was on the lam for 32 years and was about to be retried in a 1966 murder case pleaded guilty Friday, prosecutors said.

Margo Freshwater entered the plea in the shooting death of a liquor store clerk, said Vince Higgins, spokesman for Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich.

Freshwater was convicted of first-degree murder in 1969 and sentenced to 99 years. One year later, she escaped from the Tennessee Prison for Women.

She was at large until 2002, living quietly in Columbus, Ohio, under the name Tonya McCartor with her husband, three children and a grandchild.

A lawyer for Freshwater couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Freshwater was an 18-year-old high school dropout in 1966 when, according to prosecutors, she had an affair with attorney Glen Nash, who was 20 years her senior. Authorities said the two embarked on a three-week robbery and killing spree in Tennessee, Mississippi and Florida that left one person dead in each state.

Nash was found insane by courts in all three states and was confined to psychiatric hospitals until 1983.

In 2002, Freshwater was ordered by a judge to serve the remainder of her murder sentence plus a one-year term for escape. Three months later she petitioned for a new trial, claiming a statement sent to authorities from a jailhouse informant proved her innocence.

At the time of the original trial, Johnny Box, then a 22-year-old inmate serving with Nash at the DeSoto County jail in Mississippi, wrote a four-page letter to prosecutors claiming that Nash confessed that he alone shot the clerk. But prosecutors released only one page of Box's four-page statement.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for her this May, ruling that the prosecutors withheld vital evidence. The court found that jurors might have viewed the case differently had they known of Nash's purported confession, especially given the age and education disparities between Nash and Freshwater.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)