An upstate New York woman faces 18 to 29 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the death of her husband, whose body was found last year hidden in manure on the couple’s dairy farm, PEOPLE confirms.
Charlene Mess, 49, of Attica, initially faced charges of second-degree murder, criminal use of a firearm, first- and second-degree assault, tampering with evidence and other charges following the disappearance and discovery of the body of Douglas Mess, 52.
Wyoming County, New York, District Attorney Donald O’Green fought the defense’s allegation that Charlene Mess was not mentally competent for trial, and Mess ultimately agreed to plead guilty to first degree manslaughter.
“We have been convinced for months that the defendant was faking or maligning her so-called incompetency as a delay tactic to avoid taking responsibility for killing her husband,” O’Green said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “Once the judge ruled that she was in fact competent she had no more legal maneuvers to avoid taking responsibility.”
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Prosecutors alleged that Douglas Mess’s wife of 30 years hit him in the head and body with a pitchfork, then shot him with a .22 rifle in the back of the head before burying his body in the manure on their rural property. His sons reported him missing on April 20, 2015, and Charlene Mess was arrested the next day.
Close friends said the couple had marital problems, WKBW reported.
“The Mess family and I are hopeful that the court will give her 25 years in prison or at least something close to that as we believe that that amount of time is the most appropriate sentence for her actions in this case,” said O’Green.
O’Green added, “I hope that this admission of guilt by Mrs. Mess will provide some closure and justice for the Mess family.”
Mess is scheduled to be sentenced on June 23.