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Saturday, March 1, 1997

'Cheerleader mom' freed after serving six months

By MICHELLE KOIDIN Associated Press Writer

HOUSTON (AP) - Wanda Holloway, jailed for trying to hire a hit man to kill the mother of her daughter's cheerleading rival, was freed this morning.

Ms. Holloway had served six months of a 10-year sentence after pleading no contest to solicitation of capital murder. She will be on probation for the next 9-1/2 years.

Ms. Holloway - the so-called "cheerleader mom" whose saga drew international publicity and led to two television movies - initially was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1991. That conviction was overturned when it was discovered a juror was on probation.

Ms. Holloway did not answer questions while leaving the courtroom this morning.

During the hearing, State District Judge George Godwin denied prosecutors' request to send Ms. Holloway to a mental hospital. He instead ordered her to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Godwin said he would re-evaluate the terms of her probation after the test.

"Until we know a doctor has said she is over this obsession, no, we do not feel comfortable," said Verna Heath, the target of the alleged plot.

However, Mrs. Heath added, "I don't intend on spending the rest of my life scared."

Godwin also ordered Ms. Holloway to perform 1,000 hours of community service. He recommended she spend it in a homeless shelter.

During her half-year at the state prison in Gatesville she was assigned to the hoe detail, clearing weeds from sides of highways.

Defense attorney Jack Zimmermann said Ms. Holloway already has lined up a job as a secretary at a small business in Kingwood, which is across Houston from Channelview, where the events unfolded.

Zimmermann said his client does not plan to cash in on her notoriety, adding no book or movie deals are in the works.

"She's not going to do any interviews for compensation," Zimmermann said.

Jurors in the 1991 trial heard secretly recorded tapes of Ms. Holloway asking her brother-in-law to hire a hit man to kill the mother of a girl who was vying against her daughter for a spot on the cheerleading squad.

Ms. Holloway said she wanted the mother killed because she believed that the daughter would be so upset that she would drop out of the competition.

Witnesses at the original trial described Ms. Holloway as a vindictive mother who was overzealous in pursuing her daughter's dreams. Both girls were 13 at the time.

The case was spoofed in the HBO movie "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom," which starred actress Holly Hunter as Ms. Holloway. A second made-for-TV movie, "Willing to Kill: the Texas Cheerleader Story," aired on ABC in 1992. Send a Letter to the Editor about This Story | Start or Join A Discussion about This Story
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