The woman accused of shooting and killing an Arkansas Highway Department employee at a rest stop in Van Buren was found guilty by a Crawford County jury on Thursday (Dec. 12).
Patricia McClure-Hajek was found guilty of 2nd Degree Murder in Sharren Richards’ death.
McClure-Hajek was sentenced to 30 years in prison and $15,000 in fines. She has 30 days to appeal the ruling.
Investigators say Richards, 54, was working at the Welcome Center along Interstate 40 when she was shot twice in the neck, May 1, 2012.
When authorities arrived on scene McClure-Hajek approached an officer holding a handgun.
Investigators do not believe the two women knew each other.
McClure-Hajek was arrested and held in the Crawford County Detention Center before being released on $500,000 bond in Sept. 9.
According to Lt. Steven Staggs with the Van Buren Police Department, Richards was shot between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., at the rest stop on Interstate 40 near Lee Creek Road.
When police arrived they found McClure-Hajek with a revolver in her hand. She also had a small self-inflicted gunshot wound to the leg, police say.
Investigators obtained and executed search warrants for both McClure-Hajek’s house in Franklin County, and vehicle.
Police found Richards on the ground behind her state vehicle.
Authorities say approximately 5-10 eyewitnesses were at the rest stop at the time of the shooting. The eyewitnesses were interviewed by investigators and released.
One of the eyewitnesses said he saw a state employee appear to check on someone sitting inside a gray truck. That’s when he said he heard two gunshots, saw the person outside the truck fall back, and called 911.
According to officials, Richards has been with the highway department since November 2007 as a rest attendant maintaining the outside of the welcome center and rest area.