St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar says prosecutors would seek the death penalty if Pamela Hupp, 58, is convicted of killing 33-year-old Louis Gumpenberger in O’Fallon last August.
Lohmar, who filed first degree murder charges against Hupp, made the announcement at a news conference on March 16.
Missouri allows the death penalty in a very small subset of first degree murder cases, and only under the most extreme circumstances, Lohmar said.
“I happen to believe this is one [subset],” he told reporters gathered outside the county courthouse.
He said there are “aggravating factors” that have to be met to seek a death penalty in Missouri. While declining to discuss details of the case with reporters, he said evidence will demonstrate that this case demonstrates “the worst of the worst.”
Lohmar said that Gumpenberger may have been chosen at random and the case demonstrated a “the wanton disregard for human life.” If a jury determines a guilty verdict beyond reasonable doubt, Lohmar has the discretion to ask a jury to impose a death sentence, he said.
Hupp allegedly shot Gumpenberger in her O’Fallon home on Aug. 16 to draw attention away from herself in another death case in 2011. Authorities speculate Hupp may have posed as a television producer asking Gumpenberger to re-enact a 911 call. Prosecutors allege Hupp drove Gumpenberger from his St. Charles apartment to her O’Fallon home.
They said Hupp called 911 and said there was a home invasion at her house and shot Gumpenberger. She told police later that Gumpenberger held a knife to her neck asking for money from “Russ.” A note found in his pocket later also included notes about “Russ” money and a bounty.
“Russ,” prosecutors allege, is Russell Faria, who was convicted of his wife’s fatal stabbing before that ruling was overturned. Faria was acquitted in a retrial. Authorities speculate Hupp may have had a role in the death of Elizabeth “Betsy” Faria outside of Troy, in Lincoln County.
There have been motions for change of venue for the trail, now scheduled to begin in October. Lohmar said he opposed a motion for a change of venue for the trail, a hearing on that matter is scheduled for April.
County residents are capable of considering the evidence and the death penalty and life in prison penalties in the case, Lohmar said, however, motions are possible that could delay the trail.
Lohmar said he has not sought a death penalty in the last five years during his tenure in office and he added that the sentence hasn’t been sought for perhaps a decade in the county. The last woman to be executed in Missouri was in the 1950s, he said.