A man imprisoned for 42 months before being acquitted in a retrial for the murder of his wife has agreed to settle his malicious prosecution lawsuit for $2 million, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday.
Russell Faria was convicted in 2013 for the 2011 death of his wife Betsy, whom he found stabbed 55 times. Faria’s conviction was overturned in 2013 and he was found innocent by a judge during his retrial two years later, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
In his lawsuit, Faria claimed police and investigators refused to consider an alternate suspect, Pamela Hupp, a friend of Betsy Faria who only days before her death made Hupp the beneficiary of a $150,000 life insurance policy. Additionally, Faria said he was arrested without probable cause and that police fabricated evidence and failed to investigate Hupp or consider her as a suspect.
Lawyers for police are not admitting wrongdoing in the settlement, Faria’s lawyers said.
Hupp has denied killing Betsy Faria but was imprisoned for the 2016 shooting death of Louis Gumpenberger at her home. Hupp agreed to an Alford plea last year, in which she did not admit guilt but acknowledged there was enough evidence to convict her.
Faria initially was sentenced to life for killing his wife. He said he returned home on Dec. 27, 2011, to find his wife stabbed to death. She was dying of cancer at the time.
Faria had four witnesses testify to his whereabouts when the prosecution claimed Betsy Faria was killed. His account was corroborated by store and restaurant receipts, but he was arrested and charged anyway.
Then-Lincoln County Prosecuting Attorney Leah Askey suggested that either his alibi witnesses were in on the crime or Faria had time to kill his wife and then shower before calling 911. Faria’s lawyers said there was insufficient evidence to make either claim.
One of the jurors who convicted Faria told the Post-Dispatch that the jury was not 100 percent convinced of his guilt but knew the case would be appealed.
Hupp’s plea came in a case in which prosecutors say she staged a fake kidnapping to divert attention from herself in a re-investigation of the Faria killing.
They claim she toured St. Charles County, claiming to be a producer for NBC’s “Dateline” and in need of help re-enacting a 911 call. She recruited Gumpenberger, who had mental and physical disabilities from an accident, The Associated Press reported.
Hupp shot Gumpenberger while on the phone with an emergency dispatcher, claiming that Gumpenberger had kidnapped her at knife-point. St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar said her claims unraveled quickly upon investigation.
- Pamela Hupp/Russell Farina: Screen grab