Riess sentenced to life for first-degree murder; Could be extradited to Minnesota

Published 11:01 am Tuesday, December 17, 2019

A Blooming Prairie woman charged with murdering her husband in March 2018 has pleaded guilty to the shooting death of a Florida woman.

Lois Riess, 57, of Blooming Prairie pleaded guilty on Tuesday to felony first-degree murder with a firearm in the April 9, 2018, shooting death of 59-year-old Pamela Hutchinson, who was found dead in a Fort Myers Beach condo. Riess also pleaded guilty to third-degree grand theft, third-degree grand theft of a motor vehicle and second-degree criminal use of personal identification information of a deceased individual, $5,000 or more, all felonies. Riess murdered Hutchinson to assume her identity because they looked alike.

Lois Riess, 57

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors removed the death penalty from the table. Riess was subsequently sentenced to life in prison.

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“This defendant will never get out of prison,” Florida State Attorney Amira Fox said in a press release. “This life sentence also alleviates any appellate issues that could arise and guarantees she will never be free again. It also allows the family of the victim to not have to go through the details of this crime.”

“This was a horrendous crime that spanned a number of states, starting 1,000 miles away in Minnesota and ending 1,000 miles away in Texas,” Florida Chief Assistant State Attorney Richard Montecalvo told the Herald. “We spoke to the family of Pam Hutchinson and their number one concern was that she never be released from prison. With this plea, we have made sure of that.”

According to Samantha Syoen, Communications Director for the Florida State Attorney’s Office, Riess also waived her rights to extradition, meaning she could be brought back to Minnesota to face charges of felony first and second-degree murder in the death of her husband, 54-year-old David Riess, who was found shot to death on March 23, 2018, in their rural Blooming Prairie home. David Riess’ death sparked a nationwide manhunt, leading to Lois Riess’ eventual capture by federal marshals on April 19, 2018, in South Padre Island, Texas.

Montecalvo said that Minnesota would have to submit a lodge retainer and send authorities to extradite and transport Riess to face her Minnesota charges. 

A conviction in Minnesota would not overturn her life sentence in Florida. If convicted in Minnesota, Riess could serve her sentence in either Florida or Minnesota, according to Montecalvo. It would be up to authorities where she would serve her sentence.

“I don’t care where she serves her time, I’m just glad justice was served,” Montecalvo said.

Riess is currently being held in the Lee County Jail in Fort Myers, Florida.