Terminally ill man, David Reathman, pleads guilty to strangling his wife in their Golden home

Reathman's plea deals calls for 48 years in prison

GOLDEN, Colo. - David Wayne Reathman, 65, pleaded guilty Friday to killing his 70-year-old wife at their Golden home in March.

During a morning hearing in Jefferson County court, Reathman pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder as part of a deal with prosecutors in which both sides agreed to a 48-year prison sentence, said Pam Russell, spokesman for the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office. He was originally charged with one count of first-degree murder, which was dismissed at the hearing.

A judge must decide whether to approve the 48-year sentence agreement. Formal sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 2.

Golden Police were called to the Reathmans' Golden home on March 25 after a family member requested a welfare check.  Barbara Reathman was found dead inside and David Reathman was missing.

According to an arrest affidavit, David Reathman later told police he strangled his wife after learning he was terminally ill with lung cancer in December. He also told officers he had a gambling problem and had struggled financially for years.

The affidavit said Reathman told police he had contemplated murder-suicide. Reathman told investigators that, after he killed his wife, he tried kill himself by staying outside in the mountains for three nights in hopes of freezing to death. When this failed, he surrendered to police.

"This has been very difficult case for the Reathman family," said District Attorney Peter Weir. "Considering all factors, including how hard it would be on the family to go through a trial, this plea was negotiated in the best interest of everyone involved. We believe it brings a just outcome to this tragic situation."