Ex-beauty queen sentenced to 4 years in murder case

The criminal saga of Peggy Sue Thomas, Miss Washington 2000, has drawn nation media attention. Some have dubbed it the "Drop Dead Gorgeous Case."

A former Washington state beauty queen was sentenced Friday to four years in prison for her role as an accomplice in the 2003 murder of a man on a desolate island road.

Peggy Sue Thomas, 47, was scheduled to go to trial last month for first-degree murder in a case that drew national media attention. Instead, she pleaded guilty last month to a lesser charge of first-degree rendering criminal assistance under a plea deal with Island County prosecutors.

Thomas was accused of plotting with her then-boyfriend, James Huden, to kill Russel Douglas on Dec. 27, 2003, in Freeland on Whidbey Island. Douglas was found dead in his car on a rural road; he had been shot in the head.

Huden was convicted of first-degree murder last summer and sentenced to 80 years in prison.

 Investigators believe Thomas lured Douglas to the ambush with the promise of a gift, according to court documents.

Thomas, winner of the 2000 Ms. Washington pageant, had once worked at a beauty salon owned by Douglas’ wife, according to The Seattle Times. She was arrested in New Mexico on her houseboat in July 2011, a month after Huden was arrested in Mexico, according to media reports.

The motive for the slaying remains unclear.

At Friday's sentencing, Island County Superior Court Judge Alan R. called on Thomas to "give a full account of what she knows."

"Without this information there will always be a cloud over this. If Ms. Thomas does not tell everything she knows it is only fair she be tormented the rest of her life by what she knows," the judge said, according to The Seattle Times.

Thomas declined to address the court, according to the newspaper.

Thomas’ case, dubbed by some as the "Drop Dead Gorgeous Case," has drawn national media coverage. NBC's "Dateline" planned a two-hour report on it Friday night, summarizing the episode thusly: "A love triangle involving a beauty queen, a devoted wife and a guitar hero leads to murder."

True-crime author Ann Rule was in court Friday and reportedly plans a book on it, the Times said.


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