A woman who said she shot and killed a man to save her husband in the California Valley in July pleaded no contest Monday to involuntary manslaughter.
Originally charged with murder, Gina Loret Mayborn, 56, entered her plea with a stipulation that she will receive a one-year jail term and five years of probation.
On July 8, Mayborn said Joseph King Cochran, 49, was arguing with her husband, Douglas Chadwick, who was Cochran’s stepfather.
“In a moment of clarity, I just knew that Cochran was going to kill my husband,” she allegedly told detectives.
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When Cochran wielded a shovel, Mayborn said, she warned him. When he threw the shovel at Chadwick, Mayborn fired a 20-gauge shotgun through a bedroom window. Mayborn said she aimed for Cochran’s shoulder area, but pieces of the bullet hit Cochran’s neck.
“It’s been our position from the very beginning that Ms. Mayborn did not commit a malicious or premeditated act here,” said her attorney, Earl E. Conaway III. “At no time was she trying to kill Mr. Cochran.”
Mayborn later told police she thought it was a sober decision and the right thing to do.
In the past, Cochran had threatened to kill Chadwick and Mayborn numerous times, Chadwick told police.
“He had threatened both of them that day,” Conaway said.
Mayborn was arrested and initially charged with murder. But Monday — the day she was to have a preliminary hearing — she formally accepted a plea to the lesser charge. A no-contest plea results in a conviction without an admission of guilt.
Involuntary manslaughter most commonly refers to unintentional homicides that occur during the commission of non-felony crimes or reckless conduct during lawful activities.
In addition to her involuntary manslaughter conviction, Mayborn also admitted to an enhancement of using a firearm. If she violates her probation, she would be subject to 14 years in prison.
But Mayborn, who has no prior convictions for violent crime, is not at-risk for violating probation, Conaway said.
She will be formally sentenced in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Dec. 5.
Had she been convicted of murder, Mayborn would have faced a possible life sentence. Instead, Mayborn, who has been in jail since July, is expected to be released in January.
“It’s a family tragedy,” Conaway said. “But I think she’s happy she’s not going to prison for the rest of her life.”