RALEIGH, N.C. — A Clayton woman at the center of a fatal love triangle pleaded guilty Wednesday for her role in the Dec. 18, 2005, slaying of her naval reservist husband.
Superior Court Judge Osmond Smith accepted Monique Berkley's guilty plea of first-degree murder, sentencing her to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The state had announced it was going to seek the death penalty if Berkley had gone to trial.
"Along the way, we looked at the relative culpabilities of each person, the evidence that was admissible against each one, and after consulting with the victim's family, we thought this was an appropriate result," District Attorney Colon Willoughby said.
After Berkley, 27, entered her plea, she broke down sobbing.
Paul Berkley, 46, also of Clayton, was shot in the head on a pathway at Millbrook Exchange Park. Police arrested his wife, who was also shot , and two men – Andrew Deshawn Canty and Latwon Darrell Johnson. They charged all three with first-degree murder.
Authorities said Monique Berkley had been having an affair with Canty and that he moved into her house while her husband was deployed overseas. Paul Berkley suspected the affair and planned to divorce his wife, they said.
That is when, Raleigh police said, she put in motion a plot to kill her husband.
In court Wednesday, Wake County Assistant District Attorney Susan Spurlin said Monique and Paul Berkley went out on a date, days after he returned from his tour of duty in the Middle East.
The couple went to see the movie "King Kong" before going to Millbrook Exchange Park for "a romantic interlude."
Spurlin said that during the movie, Monique Berkley went to the restroom and called Canty, telling him to meet them at the park. Spurlin said Johnson drove Canty.
Canty later walked past the couple at the park and shot Paul Berkley in the back of the head and Monique Berkley in the shoulder, Spurlin said. Canty also took Berkley's wallet to make it look like a robbery.
Spurlin said Berkley, Canty and Johnson planned to share a payout from a $400,000 life insurance policy.
Authorities have never recovered the murder weapon and believe it was thrown in a river. Investigators said a gun sold to Canty was test-fired in a Johnston County yard before the killing, and shell casings from that matched the casings found at the crime scene.
Canty pleaded guilty Aug. 20 to first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Johnson's trial date has not been set.