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Utah woman pleads guilty to kidnapping charge in man's murder

SALT LAKE CITY — A southern Utah woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to kidnapping charges in connection with the murder of a father who investigators say was killed over a child custody dispute.

Tammy Renee Freeman, 54, of Washington City, pleaded guilty in 5th District Court in St. George to aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary and theft of property, all second-degree felonies.

In plea documents filed Tuesday, Freeman admitted to driving two people to kidnap David Heisler, 30, from his Santa Clara home, then picking them both up again after they had killed him.

Heisler had been awarded permanent custody of his daughter — who was 6 at the time — on June 13, 2016. Court documents say the girl's mother, Kelley Marie Perry, 32, was extremely upset by the judge's decision and her boyfriend, Francis Lee McCard, 56, of Washington City, told her following the hearing, "I will fix this."

After getting a ride to the home from Freeman, the plea form indicates McCard and Perry "assaulted, zip-tied and placed Heisler against his will into the back seat of the stolen vehicle. Heisler was taken to a remote location in the Arizona desert, where he was left to die."

Freeman also admitted to picking Perry up after the kidnapping and picking up McCard from Beaver Dam, Arizona, after he ditched Heisler's stolen car.

In exchange for Freeman's plea, prosecutors for the federal government and the state of Arizona agreed not to pursue additional charges against her. It was also agreed that her prison sentences for the charges will run concurrently.

Sentencing for Freeman is scheduled for April 10.

Earlier this month, felony information was filed in federal court against McCard accusing him of kidnapping resulting in death, and a change of plea hearing was held the next day where a universal resolution for all of McCard's state and federal charges was reached.

In addition to pleading guilty to his federal charge, McCard pleaded guilty in Arizona to charges of murder, a second-degree felony, and kidnapping with aggravating factors, according to court records. At sentencing he is expected to receive consecutive prison sentences totaling 75 years, meaning he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

A preliminary hearing for Perry is scheduled in St. George for April 9. She is charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary, first-degree felonies, and theft, a second-degree felony.