Muscatine County woman pleads guilty in neighbor's death

Muscatine County woman pleads guilty in neighbor's death

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MUSCATINE, Iowa - Ann Marie Smith could go to prison for up to 45 years.

The 53-year-old woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to voluntary manslaughter and four other felony counts before Iowa District Court Judge Mary Howes at the Muscatine County Courthouse. She was originally charged with first-degree murder, which holds a mandatory life prison sentence. A judge will decide whether to accept Smith's request. She has waived her jury trial, which was scheduled to begin July 20.

Smith said she shot her neighbor, Zina Montoya, multiple times over a cocaine deal. Montoya's son, Dexter Montoya, found his mother's body on Aug. 25, 2008, in the yard of their trailer at 1365 Ripley Court. Smith and Dexter Montoya had done cocaine together, and the two were involved in a drug deal with the victim.

Just five minutes prior to the 2 p.m. hearing, Dexter Montoya could be heard yelling obscenities and hitting the walls of an elevator on the third floor of the Muscatine County Courthouse. Montoya was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing. Officials from the Muscatine County Sheriff's Office had told Montoya about 10 minutes prior to his arrest not to show up at the courthouse because of his inability to control his behavior, according to Detective Mike Bailey.

Dexter Montoya has been charged with three other crimes this year. In January, he was charged with contempt, a misdemeanor; in February, he was charged with a felony drug violation and received a deferred sentence; and in June, he was charged with misdemeanor interference with official acts.

Smith pleaded guilty to five felony charges related to the death of Zina Montoya including:

- Voluntary manslaughter, assault while participating in a felony and willful injury, all class C forcible felonies punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and a minimum of five.

- Going armed with intent, a class D felony punishable by a maximum of five years in prison.

- Use of a person under the age of 18 in a drug trade, a class C felony with a maximum 10-year sentence.

Her plea also includes an agreement to pay Zina Montoya's estate $150,000.

Smith gazed forward as she admitted to the judge that she had shot Montoya.

Zina Montoya's friends and family held on to one another and cried inside the courtroom.

What's next

Ann Marie Smith is scheduled to be sentenced at 9:15 a.m. Aug. 21.


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