FARMINGTON — A woman originally arrested on suspicion of murdering her husband never was charged with homicide. Three years later, she has pleaded guilty to obstructing justice in the case.
North Salt Lake police arrested Cynthia Knight-Christensen in November 2019, accusing her in a probable cause statement of shooting her husband, Reed Christensen, on July 4, 2018.
But the Davis County Attorney’s Office never charged her with murder. Instead, prosecutors charged her with first-degree felony obstruction of justice, which could carry a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Those charging documents said Knight-Christensen conspired with two or more other people to kill Christensen. They alleged she did not want to leave Christensen because she would lose her home and that he was going to report her for committing fraud. They said she offered them money to “make Reed’s death happen.”
The documents quoted co-conspirator witnesses as saying the couple argued and the woman shot Christensen with a handgun. Knight-Christensen then allegedly altered the crime scene, disposed of the gun and other evidence and set up an alibi with others. The day after the murder, she told police she found her husband dead when she returned home.
But in a plea bargain, Knight-Christensen on Tuesday pleaded guilty to a reduced third-degree felony obstruction charge and a charge of third-degree felony evidence tampering.
She could face penalties of zero to five years on those charges when she is sentenced by 2nd District Judge David Connors on May 18.
The pleas admit no role in the actual killing of Christensen. The plea document says she admits giving false information to police about the murder “with the intent to hinder or delay the investigation.” She further admits to tampering with evidence to deceive police and hinder the investigation.
“The state of Utah acknowledges the defendant cannot be charged with the murder of Reed Christensen based on this plea agreement,” the document said.
No others have been charged in Christensen’s death, according to Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings.
Court records show Knight-Christensen had seven previous felony or misdemeanor convictions for forgery, theft, fraud and identity theft.
The 58-year-old woman has been held without bail at the Davis County Jail in Farmington since her arrest in 2019.
Two fellow inmates wrote letters to Connors in recent weeks defending Knight-Christensen for battling substance addiction, enduring domestic abuse and admitting struggles with financial crimes. One said she helped tutor younger inmates toward high school graduation.