(Photo: Screen Grab via WZZM 13)
Months after his wife, Julia Merfeld, 21, unsuccessfully plotted to murder him in cold-blood because it was "easier than divorcing him," Jacob Merfeld, 27, called her "a Godly person" and told a judge in Muskegon, Mich., that he had forgiven her.
"I know that she is a godly person and that after talking to her, she is very repentive of this sin she has committed," said Jacob Merfeld at his wife's sentencing in Muskegon County Court on Tuesday according to WZZM 13.
He then begged the judge to be lenient with his wife explaining that she was a great mom and that he had forgiven her.
Julia Merfeld pleaded guilty in June to soliciting her husband's murder from an undercover officer. But Jacob, however, had asked Chief Muskegon County Circuit Judge William C. Marietti that she serve no jail time for trying to kill him.
The 21-year-old woman was recorded telling the undercover officer that she needed a "clean getaway" from her marriage to Jacob because she couldn't deal with the emotional fallout of a divorce.
"When I first decided to do this, it's not that we weren't getting along, as terrible as it sounds, it was easier than divorcing him. I didn't have to worry about the judgment of my family, I didn't have to worry about breaking his heart, all that stuff, like this is like a clean getaway," said Merfeld in a video recording of her solicitation of the police officer provided by the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office.
"I mean it's gonna break my heart when it happens, but it's something that I've been thinking about a whole lot," she added.
Julia Merfeld also confessed to police detectives that she wanted her husband murdered so she could collect a $400,000 life insurance policy.
On Tuesday, according to WZZM, Julia Merfeld cried for mercy.
"My tears are not for your pity, your Honor. My tears are for remorse," she said. "My husband, who actually sits behind me right now has already forgiven me, and the second is God," she added.
A 30-year veteran psychologist and relationship therapist Dr. Richard Raubolt told WZZM on Tuesday, however, that Julia Merfeld is a manipulator.
"Her tears were orchestrated in order to manipulate," said Dr. Raubolt after listening to her appeal. And the person being manipulated, he explained, is Jacob Merfeld.
"True forgiveness is rare," said Dr. Raubolt. "It has to do with genuine, heart-felt remorse, and a willingness to abide by consequences and move forwards. I didn't hear any of that presented [in the case]," he said.
So why would Jacob say he forgave his wife after everything?
"She's really the powerbroker. And I would suspect this man is so traumatized at this point, so identified with his children that all he wants is this imaginary wife back that will really love him this time," said Dr. Raubolt.
When asked if he felt their marriage could be salvaged, he gave a firm "no."
"I think it's stretching all definitions of word to call it marriage," he said.
Julia Merfeld is expected to spend at least the next five years in prison for trying to kill her husband.