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Dutra receives maximum sentence

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Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2003 10:00 pm

Sarah Dutra was sentenced to the maximum 11 years in prison today in a San Joaquin County courtroom for voluntary manslaughter and being an accessory to the murder of Sacramento attorney Larry McNabney.

McNabney's murder drew national attention after police revealed that the attorney had been poisoned, his body stored in a refrigerator for months and then buried in a vineyard by his wife, Elisa.

McNabney had let his law practice suffer and begun drinking heavily in the months before his murder, according to documents and statements by witnesses.

He was last seen Sept. 10, 2001, at a Southern California horse show with his wife and Dutra.

Tavia Williams, right, daughter of slain Woodbridge attorney Larry McNabney, hugs a well-wisher at the San Joaquin County courthouse today in Stockton after the sentencing of Sarah Dutra. Dutra, convicted of manslaughter in the killing of McNabney, was given the maximum sentence of 11 years. (AP Photo/Clifford Oto)

Dutra, a student at California State University, Sacramento, who worked as a receptionist at McNabney's law firm, told detectives she had left the horse show but returned after McNabney's wife said the lawyer was ill.

The two women rented a wheelchair to get McNabney from his hotel room to his truck and then carted him - nearly dead from the horse tranquilizer - back to his Lodi-area home. He apparently died during the night.

The next day, Dutra told detectives, McNabney's wife threatened to kill her, too, if she didn't help put the body in a refrigerator in the garage, so she did.

Prosecutors said Elisa McNabney - whose real name was Laren Sims Jordan - and Dutra forged the lawyer's name on checks and sold his valuables, such as his truck and a diamond ring.

Sims Jordan's daughter, 18-year-old Haylei Jordan, testified that Dutra never seemed afraid of her mother and was always willing to let her mother use her name to buy cars and make other purchases that typically require identification.

Sims Jordan couldn't use her own identification because of outstanding warrants for parole violations in Florida.

Dutra admitted traveling with Sims Jordan after the murder, including one trip to Las Vegas with McNabney's body in the trunk of Sims Jordan's car.

Dutra told detectives she refused to help Sims Jordan bury McNabney, so a planned burial in the Nevada desert was aborted. Later, Sims Jordan buried the body in a San Joaquin County vineyard, where it was found by farm workers in February 2002.

Soon after McNabney's body was discovered, she fled California in a newly purchased red Jaguar, prompting a nationwide hunt.

Eventually, she was caught in Florida and confessed to murdering McNabney before hanging herself in her jail cell last March.

Her confession, in which she implicated Dutra, was ruled inadmissible as evidence in Dutra's trial.

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