Woman jailed for life for shooting and killing doppelganger

A woman who led police on a cross-country hunt has pleaded guilty to fatally shooting a woman she targeted because the two looked alike.

Lois Riess, from Minnesota, singled out Pamela Hutchinson because they shared similar features and she wanted to assume her identity while on the run, prosecutors claimed.

The 57-year-old has been sentenced to life in prison.

She garnered national attention in April 2018 as the "fugitive grandma" before she was captured in Texas.

Lois Riess pleaded guilty Tuesday to killing a Florida woman who prosecutors said was targeted because the two looked alike. Source: South Padre Island Police Department via AP.

"It was certainly one of the more unusual cases in my 25 year career as a prosecutor," Florida Chief Assistant State Attorney Rich Montecalvo said on Tuesday.

Riess' saga began in March 2018, when her husband, 54-year-old David Riess, was found dead at their Blooming Prairie, Minnesota home.

She forged checks to steal $US11,000 ($A16,000) from his account, travelled south to Florida and landed in Fort Myers, prosecutors said.

Investigators said surveillance footage showed the two women near Hutchinson's Fort Myers condo hotel room on April 4 and 5.

For the next two days, Riess was recorded carrying garbage bags to the parking lot but Hutchinson wasn't seen at all.

After killing Hutchinson, Riess made her way to Texas while using her credit cards and vehicle, police said.

Riess was drinking cocktails at a South Padre Island, Texas waterfront restaurant when arrested by federal deputy marshals on April 19.

An employee recognised her from TV footage.

Pamela Hutchinson (left) was singled out by Lois Riess (right). Source: Fox 4 News/AP.

On Tuesday, Riess pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with a firearm, grand theft of a motor vehicle, grand theft and criminal use of personal identification information of a deceased individual.

Prosecutors withdrew the death penalty as part of the plea deal.

State Attorney's Office spokeswoman Samantha Syoen said Hutchinson's family was supportive of the agreement because they wanted her incarcerated for the rest of her days.

"This defendant will never get out of prison," said State Attorney Amira Fox.

"This life sentence also alleviates any appellate issues that could arise and guarantees she will never be free again."

Riess waived extradition to face charges in Minnesota in connection with her husband's slaying. 

"We believe that justice is done for the victim's family. They just wanted to make sure she was never ever released from prison," Montecalvo said.

Braden Riess said in 2018 his mother was a "good lady" but had "her own demons".

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