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Pamela Hupp pleads not guilty to murder

<p>Pamela Hupp is charged with murder in the shooting death of Louis Gumpenberger.</p>

Pamela Hupp has entered a "not guilty" plea for the murder of Louis Gumpenberger.

Police say Hupp shot and killed 33-year-old Gumpenberger in her O'Fallon, Mo. home last August. At the time, Hupp claimed Gumpenberger was a burglar, but investigators believe his death was part of an elaborate plan to "take the heat" off of herself from the trial involving Russ Faria.

She was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

At her arraignment in St. Charles County Circuit Court Monday morning, Hupp's lawyers waived the formal reading of the charges and Hupp pleaded not guilty to both counts.

"Ms. Hupp has asked me to convey that this sort of sensational attention this case has sometimes drawn may miss those pleas and that's her concern at this time," said Nick Williams, who represents Hupp.

Back in August, when officers arrived to Hupp's home, they found Gumpenberger dead with a handwritten note and $900 cash in his pocket. The note had instructions to kidnap Hupp, "get Russ's money," and kill Hupp.

According to Hupp, a car pulled up to her driveway and Gumpenberger exited the passenger seat before climbing into her car. She says he held a knife to her throat and demanded she take him to the bank to get "Russ's money." Hupp claims she was able to knock the knife out of his hand then run into her home. She says Gumpenberger followed her into the house, threatening her life. That's when she says she called 911 and shot him.

But investigators have a different story.

Police said information taken from Hupp's cell phone placed her in front of Gumpenberger's apartment complex before the 911 call came in. Witnesses at the apartment complex say Gumpenberger had been outside around the same time.

Police believe Hupp likely posed as a Dateline NBC producer and convinced Gumpenberger to come over and reenact 911 calls. They say the 33-year-old man may have fallen for it all because of mental challenges stemming from a 2005 accident.

Lohmar said Gumpenberger had previously suffered a traumatic brain injury and had slurred speech, did not drive, had limited motor function and had no known income. He went on to say Hupp was targeting an innocent victim who could be easily influenced by money.

"She was very calculated and looking for somebody that fit a particular profile. This victim unfortunately fit that profile. Somebody who may not be sophisticated, somebody who might be easily persuaded by a decent amount of cash," said Lohmar. "I don't think she anticipated that it would turn out that he would have the physical and mental disabilities that he did have, and I think that's part of her undoing, to be honest with you."

Hupp has been charged with first-degree murder in Gumpenberger's death. A pre-trial motion has been scheduled for August 28 with the trial scheduled to begin on October 3.

In 2015, Hupp was a key witness at the retrial of Russ Faria, even though she was never called to the stand.

Russ Faria's wife Betsy was found murdered on December 27, 2011 in the couple's Troy, Mo. home. She had been stabbed 55 times.

Hupp, who was reportedly the last person to see Betsy alive, collected $150,000 in life insurance after her death. She had become Betsy's beneficiary several days before the murder.

Though Hupp did not testify in the retrial, a detective testified Hupp told police that she and Betsy had been lovers, according to NBC News.

Although defense lawyers contended Hupp was an alternate suspect in the Betsy Faria murder case, she was never officially named as a suspect in the case.

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