Marine Corps veteran Marquis Cheatham and Dominique Atkinson were sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for killing Cheatham's wife Ashley McCarthy.
The co-defendants pleaded guilty in March 2016 for the April 2014 crime.
"The state hasn't asserted a motive, but from my review and study of this case it appears life insurance was a factor," said Montgomery County Circuit Judge Johnny Hardwick.
But Virgil Ford, who represented Cheatham, told Hardwick that life insurance was absolutely not a factor.
"My client (Cheatham) was making $43,000 a year. He had a promising life ahead of him," Ford said.
Ford also said that the murder likely escalated from McCarthy calling Cheatham's commanders where he was stationed North Carolina, which caused Cheatham to be disciplined by his higher ups.
Dominique Atkinson was sentenced to life in prison for murder.
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It was during his time in North Carolina when Cheatham met Atkinson, said Deputy District Attorney Kenneth Gibbs, who prosecuted the case. McCarthy stayed in Montgomery while he was stationed there.
Gibbs said these calls were about benefits McCarthy wasn't receiving that she should have been.
"Cheatham wasn't taking care of (McCarthy)," Gibbs said.
In April 2013, Cheatham and Atkinson drove down from North Carolina to Montgomery, where Cheatham met McCarthy out near the airport.
McCarthy and Cheatham then went to a Waffle House, but left arguing. According to Gibbs, Cheatham held McCarthy at gunpoint as McCarthy drove back to Cheatham's mother's house, where Atkinson was waiting.
The two placed McCarthy in the trunk of Cheatham's car, and eventually drove out toward Lower Wetumpka Road.
"I was driving (Cheatham's) car while he was driving (McCarthy's)," Atkinson said during her sentencing hearing. "I never ever wanted anything like this to happen, but I followed him as he drove (McCarthy's) car and hid it."
Cheatham hid McCarthy's car in a shed on Lower Wetumpka Road, then joined Atkinson in his car, Gibbs said.
As they were driving, McCarthy managed to pop open the trunk and escape from the car.
"Ultimately, Cheatham gets out of the car, chases (McCarthy), catches her and shoots her in the head," Gibbs said.
Gibbs added that Cheatham shot McCarthy on the steps of a resident's home, and left her body there. She was found the next morning by a mother walking her children to school, as well as the homeowner.