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Woman pleads guilty to second-degree murder for shooting and killing her father

Crime Watch

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Jessica Conser at a court hearing in 2018. | EastIdahoNews.com file photo

REXBURG — A woman admitted Wednesday to murdering her father in the Hibbard area of Madison County during a schizophrenic episode in 2018.

Jessica Conser, 35, pleaded guilty to felony second-degree murder for shooting and killing 66-year-old Matthew Travao. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors reduced a first-degree murder charge to second-degree murder and dismissed a felony weapon enhancement.

“On June 5, 2018, I shot and killed my dad in Madison County,” Conser said in court Wednesday.

According to court documents obtained by EastIdahoNews.com, Conser “fully admitted and confessed,” to driving from her home in Montana to her father’s home west of Rexburg to kill him. She shot Travao around 9:30 p.m., ran out of the house and drove off. She was caught and arrested later that night near the Idaho/Montana border.

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“She didn’t do this with the intent to be evil,” Defense Attorney Jim Archibald said Wednesday. “She thought demons possessed him and he was the devil.”

Matthew Travao | Obituary photo

Archibald told District Judge Steven Boyce when he met Conser, “she was definitely mentally ill.” He said when first speaking with her in jail she struggled communicating with him and the jail staff. He described her behavior as “erratic” and “bizarre” during her initial time in custody.

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In July, Conser’s competency came into question, and she was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial. She was committed to the Idaho Department of Welfare’s State Hospital South in Blackfoot. Archibald said while there, several medical professionals diagnosed her odd behavior, classifying it as paranoid schizophrenia. After receiving treatment and stabilization with medication during her almost three months at the hospital, doctors determined her fit to stand trial.

At a preliminary hearing in September 2018, a detective testified that during an initial interview with Conser the night of the murder, she told investigators she believed Travao killed her daughter despite the fact her daughter is alive. She told investigators she believed her daughter was murdered because her father and pastor in Montana were communicating with her telepathically.

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Due to Conser’s schizophrenic episode and lifelong need for medication, a plea agreement between prosecutors and the defense binds the court to give Conser an indeterminate life sentence. The indeterminate sentence is the maximum time a defendant can serve, and a fixed term is the minimum amount of time set by a judge. Consor’s fixed prison term will be argued by both parties during sentencing.

During the discovery process after Conser’s arrest, psychologists decided she needs supervision from professionals and probation for the rest of her life, Archibald said.

Boyce ordered Conser to undergo a pre-sentencing investigation. Sentencing will be set at a later time once attorneys determine a date family members can attend.

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