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Mother, daughter plead not guilty in man's murder

November 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Lorraine Hunter and her daughter, Briuana, sat within a few feet of each other in a Riverside County courtroom in silence Monday. The two women were in court accused of plotting and carrying out the murder of Albert Thomas two years ago.

That man was Lorraine Hunter's husband.

"This was a crime, we are alleging, was committed for financial gain in which they were trying to obtain a life insurance policy on the victim," said John Hall, spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.

The duo pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges.

Investigators alleged Hunter, 56, and her daughter, 18, lured the 58-year-old trucker out on a walk Nov. 3, 2009 and then shot him.

Police discovered Thomas' body in the sleeper cabin of his big rig, which was parked in a dirt lot across the street from a Moreno Valley elementary school.

At the time, investigators thought Thomas may have been robbed. The case eventually went cold until last month when detectives received a new tip that led to their arrest.

Hunter could face the death penalty if convicted, while the victim's stepdaughter, Briuana Lashane Hunter, could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"It is a special circumstances case which would make it eligible for the death penalty," Hall said. "The district attorney has not made that decision yet."

The two remain jailed on $1.5 million bail.