(CN) - A woman who was convicted of trying to have her husband killed is not entitled to more than 10 percent of the marital estate in the couple's divorce case, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled.
Jeffrey and Donna Walcott were married in 1995 and have two sons, ages 12 and 10.
During the divorce trial, Donna's former co-worker at a bank, Jill Scibelli, testified that Donna had asked her in 2006 if Scibelli's husband could "take care of a problem" by "get[ting] rid of something."
After Scibelli replied that her husband was a chef, Donna asked if he had relatives who could help.
The trial judge, David Sacks, interpreted the testimony to mean that Donna was asking if Scibelli knew anyone who could have Jeffrey killed.
Two weeks after Donna's conversation with Scibelli, the Walcotts were vacationing alone on a houseboat in Texas. Donna made an alcoholic beverage for Jeffrey, who had been feeling ill, and Jeffrey later found himself in the water. He swam a mile to shore and walked for hours before finding help.
Jeffrey testified that he felt a hand push him off the boat, but the trial judge ruled that it was just as likely that Jeffrey fell overboard.
Sacks did say, however, that Donna should not have served alcohol to Jeffrey, who had been sick and hadn't eaten much solid food.
Donna's cousin, John Jamroz, testified that Donna then approached him about making her husband "disappear." Jamroz said Donna asked him if he knew anyone in the Mafia.
Jamroz went to the police, who arrested Donna for solicitation to commit murder. After a jury trial, Donna served three months in prison and was released on parole.
Divorce predictably followed, and the judge awarded Jeffrey 90 percent of the marital estate.
Donna contested the division of assets on appeal and the denial of her request for additional attorneys' fees, but the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the decision.
"The wife is employed and able to support herself on her salary, while the husband must, because of the wife's egregious acts, meet virtually all of the needs of himself and the children," Justice Barbara Lenk wrote on behalf of the court. "Irrespective of whether we would have applied the same calculus, this disproportionate award does follow logically from the judge's findings, and therefore we cannot say it is an abuse of the judge's broad discretion."
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.