A Superior Court judge has agreed that Theresa Jimmie Cross, who is accused of killing her two daughters, will not face the possibility of the death penalty.
The ruling in this decade-old case was part of a plea agreement prosecutors outlined Tuesday in Superior Court. Cross, 49, pleaded guilty to two first-degree murder charges in connection with the slayings of Suesan Marline Knorr, 17, in 1984, and Sheila Gay Sanders, 20, in 1985.Knorr's father, Robert, cried out, "No!" in dismay when the prosecutors announced the agreement.
"She should fry!" he said.
Knorr was Cross' second husband and the father of four of her six children, including Suesan, who was burned to death on a pyre of her own belongings in the Sierras.
Sanders was beaten and left to die in a closet. A fisherman discovered her body, which had been stuffed in a box and dropped near Tahoe Airport in Nevada County.
No one in the family reported the girls missing, and authorities were unable to identify the remains of the bodies that were discovered until Cross' youngest daughter, 24-year-old Terry Groves, called police to tell them of her mother's crimes in October 1993.
Cross was working in Salt Lake City as a caretaker for an elderly man at the time.
Groves also implicated brothers William Robert, 27, and Robert Wallace Knorr Jr., 26. William Robert Knorr, 27, remains charged with the homicides and will go to a preliminary hearing before Municipal Court Judge Renard F. Shepard. Robert Wallace Knorr Jr. has pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the killings.
Cross rocked back and forth on her feet during Tuesday's court hearing as she listened to prosecutor John O'Mara recite the facts of the case. She hesitated when asked if she were pleading guilty because she was, in fact, guilty of the two murders.
"I believe I would be found guilty," Cross said, after hesitating.
O'Mara said the two deceased daughters were victims of ongoing abuse inflicted by Cross and her brothers over many years.