A former Texas police officer has pleaded guilty to killing his pregnant girlfriend in 2015 and agreed to serve a life sentence without parole, according to multiple news outlets.
On Monday, VonTrey Clark, 36, appeared in front of a Bastrop County district judge and reversed his not guilty plea.
After his admission of guilt, family members of Samantha Dean — who was killed in a murder-for-hire plot — began to read aloud their victim impact statements.
“You stole my favorite person,” Dean’s sister Taylor Dean stated in court, according to the Austin American Statesman. “But that’s not all. You stole an innocent child. You stole my niece. It’s incredible that someone so small could bring so much joy.”
In the early morning hours of Feb. 4, 2015, officers discovered Samantha Dean’s body on the ground near a vehicle, officials reportedly told Austin TV station KVUE. The 29-year-old was seven months pregnant and had been shot three times in the back of the head.
According to court documents, Clark, who denied any involvement at the time of Dean’s death, was detained in Indonesia by authorities who were reportedly working with the FBI to have him returned to Texas. A month earlier, he had been fired by the Austin Police Department for policy violations, including associating with known criminals and not providing information like cellphone records for an internal affairs investigation, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
Court documents, obtained by TV station KXAN, alleged Clark paid Freddie Lee Smith and Kevin Watson $5,000 to kill Dean.
In September of this year, Watson was arrested and charged with murder. Initially, he pleaded not guilty but amended his plea to guilty. He will be serving 35 years in prison.
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Smith was also charged with murder, but he has not entered a plea. His arraignment hearing is set for Jan. 6, the Austin America Statesman reports.
Meanwhile, Dean’s family is still reeling from the crime that took her and her unborn child, who she had named Madeline, away from them.
Shortly after the incident, Dean’s mother Kimberly spoke to PEOPLE about the joy she brought to her family. Kimberly and her husband Kelvin made a nursery, which remained untouched at the time.
“I don’t have the heart or emotion to take any of it down,” Kimberly said in 2015.
On Feb. 7, 2015, Samantha’s body was transported from Lockhart, Texas, where the autopsy was performed, to her hometown of San Antonio, about an hour away. Kimberly says she wasn’t prepared for what they witnessed during the drive: Hundreds of police cars joining the procession, and people saluting them at every overpass.
“It was, by far, the most incredible thing I’ve ever witnessed,” says Kimberly, fighting back tears. “I couldn’t imagine that other people felt that much about my daughter. She made such an impact.”