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Riess pleads guilty to first degree murder, sentenced to life in prison

By Staff | Dec 17, 2019

A Minnesota grandmother charged with killing a woman on Fort Myers Beach and stealing her identity while on the run in another homicide has pleaded guilty to first degree murder.

Lois Riess, 57, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges related to the 2018 shooting death and robbery of Fort Myers Beach resident Pamela Hutchinson, 59.

In exchange for her plea, Reiss was sentenced to life in prison by Judge Robert Branning.

As part of the plea deal, the State Attorney’s Office agreed to drop its quest for the death penalty, which the office announced it would seek last July.

Riess still faces first-degree murder charges in the 2018 shooting death of her husband in Minnesota. She waived extradition Tuesday to face those charges.

Riess allegedly shot her husband, raided his bank accounts, and then fled to Florida where she befriended Hutchinson on Fort Myers Beach because of their similar appearance.

Riess then shot Hutchinson in her room at Snug Harbour at Marina Village, stole Hutchinson’s vehicle and took money from her bank account and continued her run, first to Ocala and then to South Padre Island. She was identified in a restaurant by a resident and arrested by the local police department and the U.S. Marshals Service.

According to a statement released by the State Attorney’s Office, 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, $5,000 or more. She was indicted on those charges in 2018 by the Lee County Grand Jury.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Rich Montecalvo, Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Royal, and Assistant State Attorney Hamid Hunter prosecuted the case.

“This defendant will never get out of prison. This life sentence also alleviates any appellate issues that could arise and guarantees she will never be free again. It also allows the family of the victim to not have to go through the details of this crime at a trial,” said State Attorney Amira Fox, 20th Judicial Circuit, in a prepared statement.