Lois Riess indicted by grand jury on first-degree murder charge

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Lois Riess was indicted Wednesday afternoon for first-degree murder with a firearm, the State Attorney’s Office said in a press conference.

The 56-year-old woman is accused of killing her husband in Minnesota, then killing a woman in April on Fort Myers Beach.

Detectives said Riess murdered Pamela Hutchinson, 59, of Bradenton, because they looked alike, then stole her white Acura, credit cards and her identity.


The State Attorney’s Office convened the Lee County Grand Jury to also indict Riess on charges of grand theft of a motor vehicle, grand theft and criminal use of personal identification information of a deceased individual.

The indictment presented Wednesday for first-degree murder with a firearm supersedes the second-degree murder charge filed earlier by the State Attorney’s Office.

Sheila Luttrull, a visitor to Southwest Florida, said she was shocked to find Riess was facing second-degree murder charges.

“Sitting there, befriended her and stole her ID, I mean how much more premeditated can you get?” Luttrull said.

Former prosecutor Mike Chinopolous said the state attorney’s office may have filed the original second-degree murder charge if there was a lack of evidence for pre-meditation.

“Sometimes even what we know, we can’t prove in a court, because the standard in court for a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt, and that’s a really high standard,” Chinopolous said.

After taking this case to a grand jury, Chief Assistant State Attorney Amira Fox believes the charge is warranted.

“Our office convened a grand jury to hear this case because we believe the facts and the evidence found by LCSO are sufficient to charge first-degree murder,” Fox said.

Riess could face life in prison, but a first-degree murder charge could also carry the death penalty.

“Anytime anybody is charged with murder, it has the ultimate punishment — somebody’s life meaning if you lose you’ll spend the rest of your life in a cage,” said Fort Myers defense attorney Joe Viacava.

Riess is scheduled to be arraigned on these charges on June 11.

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