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Wanda Holloway Trial: 1991 - Tapes Lead To Conviction, Plea Agreement Ends Second Trial

harper terry daughter hire

Defendant: Wanda Webb Holloway
Crimes Charged: Solicitation of capital murder and solicitation of aggravated kidnapping
Chief Defense Lawyers: Troy McKinney and Stanley Schneider
Chief Prosecutors: Mike Anderson and Casey O'Brien
Judge: George H. Godwin
Place: Houston, Texas
Dates of Trial: August 23-September 4, 1991
Verdict: Guilty
Sentence: 15 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine (later overturned)

SIGNIFICANCE: The case of the "Texas Cheerleader Mom" was one of the most sensational trials of the 1990s.

On January 30, 1991, the people of Channelview, Texas, learned that one of their neighbors had been arrested for trying to hire a contract killer. If the crime itself was not shocking enough, the identity of the suspect, her target, and her motive seemed incredible. Wanda Webb Holloway stood accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill the mother of her daughter's rival for selection to the junior high school cheerleading squad.

The novelty of the charges against the 37-year-old made her case an international media sensation well before her trial began. Holloway allegedly wanted to dispose of Verna Heath, whose daughter Amber had twice been chosen as a cheerleader over Holloway's daughter, Shanna. Prosecutors charged that Holloway had asked her former brother-in-law, Terry Harper, if he could hire someone to kill Verna Heath, presumably to traumatize Amber enough to make her forgo her cheerleading activities. Harper claimed that he had initially brushed aside her request, but later mentioned it to his brother Tony, Holloway's former husband and Shanna's father. Tony Harper insisted that Terry report the incident to the authorities. Although incredulous at first, Houston detectives wired Terry Harper with hidden recording devices. When Holloway and Harper met again, the tape was rolling and enough evidence was gathered to prosecute.

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