How A Murder Conviction Led To A 6-Month Prison Sentence

This article contains mentions of violence and sexual assault.

It isn't unheard of for an alleged killer to evade a just sentence — even if it's one many believe they fully deserve. For nearly 30 years, the infamous O.J. Simpson trial that determined the former NFL star's alleged innocence has remained a piping hot topic of controversy. Though the jury officially ruled in Simpson's favor, countless onlookers to this today proclaim the once-beloved actor is guilty of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. When Casey Anthony was acquitted of killing her infant daughter in 2011, the world at large chorused in a ferocious uproar of disgust. When people may never get the answers they crave regarding what really happened in both the O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony trials, postulations about the supposed truth continue to proliferate. 

It's been said that justice — like revenge — is a dish best served cold, but what if the dish is only cold because it's been left untouched for so long? It was in 2013 that Carolyn Krizan-Wilson, after being declared innocent of murdering her husband in cold blood almost 30 years earlier, was brought before a judge once again and deemed guilty of the crime. Friends and loved ones who knew the victim were overjoyed to see the killer wind up in her rightful place behind bars, but their rejoicing was cut short after the judge delivered a shockingly tame penalty: six months of incarceration for murder in the first degree (via KAKE News). 

The night Carolyn Krizan-Wilson killed her husband

In 1985, Carolyn Krizan-Wilson told police that a homeless man had entered her home in the middle of the night and shot her husband, Roy McCaleb, to death while McCaleb was fast asleep, (per KAKE News). She also claimed that the man had sexually assaulted her prior to the break-in. Despite the fact that authorities were virtually in unanimous agreement that her story was a lie and that Krizan-Wilson was in fact the one who shot McCaleb, there was a significant lack of incriminating evidence. 

As the Daily Mail reported in 2013, her testimony stated that the unnamed man — who had allegedly raped her during a carjacking 10 days earlier — tracked her down, broke into the home, sexually assaulted her at knifepoint for a second time, and poured hot wax on her body. He then entered the bedroom where McCaleb was sleeping and, upon finding a pistol beneath Carolyn's pillow, shot him in the head several times. Afterward, while fleeing the residence, he collided with Krizan-Wilson in the hallway and dropped the firearm onto the floor before disappearing. While some investigators initially took her account as plausible, others within the police department and McCaleb's family vehemently believed otherwise. As it turned out, they were right all along. 

Why Carolyn Krizan-Wilson wasn't initially convicted

After Roy McCaleb's death, investigators and prosecutors were unable to summon the evidence necessary to negate Carolyn Krizan-Wilson's elaborate testimony. It wasn't until 2008 that, after amplified legal efforts from McCaleb's family, who believed her story to be false, the case was reopened and Krizan-Wilson was brought before the court once again. Upon reflection, inconsistencies in her story began to arise, as The Houston Chronicle noted in 2008. Krizan-Wilson's description of her assailant fluctuated, at first describing him as white and then as Black. In an attempt to explain away the lapse in her narrative, she said that she was "ashamed" of being raped by a Black man and therefore lied about the man's actual features. She also told police that the intruder used a coat hanger to scratch her body, but the object bore no traces of blood or skin. The court then resolved that Krizan-Wilson had in fact inflicted the scratches upon herself.

But there was a catch. According to an ABC News report from 2013, by 2008 Krizan-Wilson had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease shortly beforehand, so the judge tossed out the case on behalf of her deteriorating condition. All the same, the family wasn't done fighting. Per ABC News, a court of appeals managed to bring back the previous murder charge leveled at Krizan-Wilson four years later, in 2012. The original evidence was re-examined and she was made to recount the details of the murder once again. 

What was Carolyn Krizan-Wilson's possible motive?

Pam Nalley, Roy McCaleb's daughter, had long suspected a particular motive for Carolyn Krizan-Wilson's actions. According to a 2008 report by The Houston Chronicle, Krizan-Wilson had previously taken out two separate life insurance policies in her husband's name just before he was killed. The sum of both equated to a staggering $198,000. However, her efforts to collect the money after the fact turned out to be in vain when the insurance companies refused to pay up the full amount after McCaleb's children contested her claim, and after prosecutors let the insurance company know she was a suspect in McCaleb's homicide. The circumstances surrounding McCaleb's death apparently seemed too suspicious and inconsistent to them. 

There was also Krizan-Wilson's criminal history prior to and during her relationship with McCaleb. At one point, Krizan-Wilson, who had been previously married a total of seven times (as of 2013), was charged with bigamy when police discovered that she'd married McCaleb before her previous divorce was finalized, per ABC News. (Though ABC News and other outlets previously reported she was convicted of this charge, others, like The Houston Chronicle, say these charges were eventually dropped.)

Ultimately, it seems the overwhelming amount of circumstantial evidence in the case led Krizan-Wilson to plead guilty to the murder of her last husband. But perhaps no one expected what the judge at her sentencing would adjudicate next.

Why Carolyn Krizan-Wilson was only sentenced to six months

Pamela Nalley, daughter of Roy McCaleb, said this about Carolyn Krizan-Wilson following the convicted murderer's guilty sentence: "She is willingly admitting that she murdered him and that's something we've known all these years. I think that means more to me than anything," per The Houston Chronicle. But those close to or following the case might not have been prepared for the sentence Krizan-Wilson, then 71, was ultimately handed for the homicide: a six-month sentence behind bars, and a remaining 10-year probationary period, as ABC News reported in 2013.

There was, however, a particular line of reasoning behind the decision. "Her age and her medical condition, I think all sides realized this was probably the right and just decision to make for all parties," said Stafford James, Krizan-Wilson's lawyer, and an interview with an ABC affiliate shortly after the hearing (via KAKE News). Despite the objectively mild consequence, those closest to McCaleb at the time of his death seemingly received the closure they needed after Krizan-Wilson openly admitted to killing him.