A Leavenworth woman has been sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison for murdering her mother.

A Leavenworth woman has been sentenced to nearly 13 years in prison for murdering her mother.

Victoria A. Smith, 60, was sentenced Friday in Leavenworth County District Court to 155 months, or 12 years and 11 months, for intentional second-degree murder.

Smith killed her mother, Anna Marie Higgins, July 3, 2016, in Leavenworth.

Smith reportedly hit Higgins with a flashlight. Smith then struck her mother several times with a three-pound mallet.

“She was beat so bad you could not recognize her,” Ben Pierron, Higgins’ nephew, said during Friday’s sentencing hearing.

Friday’s hearing began with District Judge Gunnar Sundby denying a defense motion to allow Smith to withdraw her plea.

Smith pleaded no contest to the second-degree murder charge June 2. Later that month, her attorney, Michael Highland, filed a motion seeking to withdraw the plea.

The judge held a hearing on the motion July 7 but did not make a ruling at that time.

Sundby said Friday that Smith had argued she felt pressured because a plea agreement offer was about to expire. The judge said these types of pressures are typical in cases, but this does not mean the plea was made involuntarily.

Sundby said the defendant also argued that she felt pressure from her deceased mother. But the judge said he cannot find anything in the records of the proceedings indicating that a historical presence or spiritual presence of Smith’s mother led to the plea being made involuntarily.

The judge said Smith also indicated she misunderstood the possible sentence she could face. But Sundby said he reviewed the range of possible sentences at the time of the plea.

“I think this is more of a situation of buyer’s remorse,” Sundby said.

The judge later asked Smith is she was ready for sentencing. She answered, “No sir.”

Sundby asked why she was not ready and inquired how much additional time she needed.

Smith said she was shaken by the judge’s decision to deny the motion to withdraw the plea.

“I really wanted a trial,” she said.

County Attorney Todd Thompson objected to continuing the sentencing. He noted that family members of the victim were present and they wanted to speak during the sentencing.

“I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t go forward today,” Thompson said.

Sundby asked the defense attorney if he would be assisted by having additional time.

Highland said he believed everyone was ready for sentencing.

Sundby said the defendant’s desire to still want a trial did not impact her ability go forward with sentencing.

“I don’t think additional time will help,” Sundby said. “She will still feel this way.”

Calling what happened a “horrible incident,” Thompson recommended a sentence of 165 months in prison. This was considered the aggravated sentence under the state’s sentencing guidelines.

Highland said he did not know the prosecutor would be asking for the aggravated sentence. Highland said he was going to go along with a recommendation for the standard sentence of 155 months, but he now was asking for the mitigated sentence of 147 months.

Pierron’s wife, Karen, spoke during the sentencing.

She said Smith had a history of abusing Higgins.

Karen Pierron said Smith is a threat to society.

Ben Pierron said he had wanted the case to go to trial so people would know what the defendant did.

Pierron said he visited the crime scene after it was released by investigators.

“There was blood splattered on the wall all throughout the living room,” he said.

Highland said what his client had told him differed from the comments made by family members. The defense attorney said his client indicated she had been sexually and emotionally abused by her mother all her life.

Highland said his client had intended to scare her mother the day of the incident and was not trying to kill her.

When given the opportunity to speak, Smith offered her version of what happened the day of the murder.

Smith said her mother had used a key to enter the residence where the defendant was living. Higgins apparently owned the property.

Smith she had heard footsteps and initially attacked her mother with a flashlight not knowing who the person was. Smith said she then realized who the person was.

“I do know that I snapped,” she said.

Smith said she only tapped her mother lightly with the mallet. Smith said she believes her mother died from her injuries she suffered when being struck by the flashlight.

“I did not want her dead,” she said.

Smith said she believed manslaughter to be a more appropriate charge in the case. She asked the judge to sentence her in accordance with manslaughter.

Sundby took a short recess before imposing the sentence.

When he returned, Sundby said Smith appeared to be trying to minimize her actions. But the judge said the defendant’s requests for a lighter sentence were in conflict with the evidence of what happened.

Sundby imposed what was considered the standard sentence for the second-degree murder charge.

Smith will receive credit for 383 days she has been in custody while her case was pending.

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