Andrea Benson pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder in exchange for a promised sentence of 20 years to life and her agreement to testify against the victim's daughter-in-law, Diana Nadell. / Clarkstown Police Department
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- One of two women charged with brutally killing Peggy Nadell on Thursday admitted to being offered $10,000 to help kill the 80-year-old woman and said she strangled her with a pocketbook strap.
Andrea Benson, 25, of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder in exchange for a promised sentence of 20 years to life and her agreement to testify against the victim's daughter-in-law, Diana Nadell, 50, of Florida.
Diana Nadell, the mother of Peggy Nadell's two young grandchildren, is accused of orchestrating the killing in a bid for a share of her mother-in-law's more than $4 million estate.
Benson â?? who is the third defendant to become a cooperating witness in the case â?? told Supreme Court Justice William Kelly and prosecutor Richard Kennison Moran that she and Diana Nadell killed Peggy Nadell early on the morning of Jan. 25 inside her home after the pair talked their way through the front door.
She said as the three of them walked down the stairs inside Peggy Nadell's house, "I choked her" with a "pocketbook strap." Diana Nadell threw an object at her mother-in-law's head and then viciously beat her about the head with another object. "She stabbed her more than twice," Benson continued, speaking very softly and almost inaudibly.
Peggy Nadell's daughter Susanne Nadell-Scaccio bolted from the courtroom as Benson described what she was supposed to be paid for the murder.
Nadell-Scaccio returned within minutes and listened to the rest of Benson's account.
Nadell-Scaccio was the one who police said found her mother dead on Jan. 25 when she went to the house around 9 a.m.
"When she heard the price of her's mother's life was $10,000, it was more than she could take," attorney Daniel Bertolino said later. He represents her husband, Robert.
Emotions heated up again as Benson walked from the courtroom, dressed in an orange jumpsuit and her wrists cuffed with chains around her waist.
"Andrea, Andrea, enjoy your trip," Robert Scaccio hollered at her.
Susanne Nadell-Scaccio of Airmont and her brother, James, 52, a Florida neuropsychologist, share the estate of their mother and late father. James Nadell is not a suspect and has not responded to requests for comment.
Benson had faced a first-degree murder charge and life in prison. Her sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 18. She is being held without bail.
Two other women initially charged in the murder-for-hire â?? Eltia Grant and Tanisha Joyner â?? also have pleaded guilty to reduced charges and agreed to cooperate with the prosecution. They each pleaded to hindering prosecution, down from a conspiracy to commit murder felony count.
Diane Nadell's arraignment on charges of first- and second-degree murder is scheduled for Wednesday.
Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe has said he's looking for a life sentence for Diana Nadell.
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