Gypsy Blanchard pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Tuesday morning in connection with the 2015 killing of her mother.
As part of a deal with prosecutors, Blanchard, 24, agreed to a 10-year prison sentence and admitted to her role in planning the killing of her mother, Clauddine "Dee Dee" Blanchard, 48.
Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson told the News-Leader after Tuesday's hearing he believes he could have secured a first-degree murder conviction in this case, meaning Gypsy Blanchard would have to spend the rest of her life in prison, but he did not believe that was fair because of the abuse Gypsy Blanchard suffered at the hand of her mother.
He said he felt like 10 years in prison — the minimum sentence for a second-degree murder conviction — was more appropriate.
Photos: Gypsy Blanchard arraignment
"When you look at this case, it's a murder. And it's a first-degree murder," Patterson said. "But it's also one of the most extraordinary and unusual cases we have seen."
Mike Stanfield, Gypsy Blanchard's attorney, said he was able to uncover decades worth of abuse that Dee Dee Blanchard inflicted on Gypsy Blanchard as part of an elaborate fraud scheme.
"Essentially Gypsy's mother was holding her a prisoner," Stanfield said. "Her mother would not allow her to spend any time alone with any other human being. Her mother, when they went to the doctor, did all the talking."
When the judge asked Gypsy Blanchard on Tuesday how far she went in school, she replied, "second grade."
Stanfield said he doesn't believe his client had any formal schooling past kindergarten.
Gypsy Blanchard's boyfriend and co-defendant Nicholas Godejohn, 27, is still facing a first-degree murder charge in connection with the killing. He is scheduled to go to trial in November.
There is no agreement for Gypsy Blanchard to testify against Godejohn. The prosecutor said he could not comment on whether he will call on Gypsy Blanchard to testify at Godejohn's trial.
Gypsy Blanchard will have to serve 8 and a half years behind bars before she is eligible for release.
Stanfield said his client's health has improved in the year that she has been in the Greene County Jail and not her mother's care.
The Blanchard case captured national headlines last summer in large part because of the strange twists in the narrative.
Friends and neighbors believed Gypsy Blanchard was disabled and needed a wheelchair. They feared she was missing and endangered when her mother's body was discovered on June 14, 2015 in the family's home on Volunteer Way.
A bizarre post on the mother and daughter's joint Facebook page, saying "That B---- is dead," added to the intrigue.
It wasn't long, however, before investigators learned there was a lot more going on inside the pink home with the blacked out windows just north of the Springfield city limits.
By June 16, 2015, Gypsy Blanchard and Godejohn had been arrested in Wisconsin and charged with first-degree murder.
Deputies say Gypsy Blanchard, who can walk just fine, arranged for Godejohn — the boyfriend she chatted with on a Christian dating website — to come to Springfield and kill her mother. The couple then took more than $4,400 from the mother's safe and fled to Godejohn's home in Wisconsin.
Over the next few days the story kept developing with family members saying Dee Dee Blanchard imprisoned her daughter and forced her to pretend she was disabled.
Photos: Blanchard Case
The sheriff also said the mother and daughter, who were thought to be Hurricane Katrina survivors, were running a long financial fraud scheme. The women apparently duped everyone from the sheriff's office (which investigated concerns about Gypsy Blanchard's health five years prior) to organizations like Habitat for Humanity (which supplied the Blanchards with their home on Volunteer Way).
"It's kind of what movies are made of, that very twisted information that you don't see it coming around the corner," Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott told the News-Leader last month. "When the information came in, you were like, 'How is that possible?'"
Patterson, the prosecutor, said the evidence he saw indicates Dee Dee Blanchard was primarily responsible for the fraud.
"You are talking about a fraud that started when Gypsy Blanchard was probably 4 or so, somewhere in that age range," Patterson said. "It was a part of her entire life growing up. And I think if you look at her medical records and the way the doctor’s visits were handled, it’s clear that the person who spoke to the medical professionals and others was Clauddine Blanchard."