JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press
CONROE, Texas (AP) -- A Houston woman charged with killing a mother and abducting her newborn son last year avoided a possible death sentence by pleading guilty Tuesday and accepting a sentence of life without parole.
Montgomery County prosecutors had said they would seek the death penalty against Verna McClain for the April 2012 slaying of 28-year-old Kala Golden-Schuchardt.
McClain was awaiting trial on a capital murder charge for fatally shooting the new mother outside a pediatric clinic in the Houston suburb of Spring and snatching her 3-day-old son, Keegan. He hours later was found safe with McClain's sister, who told authorities McClain intended to adopt the child.
Investigators and McClain's relatives said she had a miscarriage and was desperate to find a baby to pass off as her own.
Authorities said McClain was waiting outside a pediatrician's office north of Houston. Witnesses said McClain repeatedly shot Golden-Schuchardt, then grabbed the child from her truck and drove away.
According to witnesses, the dying woman leaned into the vehicle and tried to take the boy back, screaming, "My baby!" but McClain sped off.
Later in the day, two detectives spotted a vehicle outside a nearby apartment complex that matched witnesses' descriptions. McClain later showed up at the apartment. In their conversation, detectives learned of McClain's sister and where the child could be.
The abducted child was returned to his father.