Man charged in nurse torture death to change plea

Posted: Monday, February 15, 2010

ANCHORAGE - A man accused of torturing and murdering a psychiatric nurse who lived next door to him will change his plea in the federal capital murder case, according to court documents filed Friday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Cooper wouldn't comment on Joshua Alan Wade's change of plea and sentencing, except to say it would be held in Anchorage federal court on Wednesday.

Wade's lawyer, Suzanne Lee Elliott, did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Wade, 29, was scheduled to go on trial next month. He could have been sentenced to death if convicted in the 2007 killing of 52-year-old Mindy Schloss.

Federal prosecutors had planned to call an expert to testify that Wade was a violent sexual predator, testimony they hoped to use to seek the death penalty. Wade has said he did not kill Schloss.

Alaska doesn't have the death penalty. But Wade was indicted in federal court with shooting and killing someone during a carjacking and federal law allows the death sentence.

Prosecutors said Wade's motive was money. They alleged that he used Schloss' ATM card after she was dead to withdraw cash from her bank account.

Even before Schloss' murder, Wade became a household name in Anchorage after he was charged in the beating death and rape of a 33-year-old woman in 2000.

Della Brown's body was found inside a run-down shack in Anchorage. Wade was acquitted in 2003, even though he told several friends he killed her. His lawyers argued that Wade was just trying to impress his friends.

Wade received a 6½-year prison sentence for tampering with evidence because he brought people to the shack to see the body.

Wade had not been out of prison very long when Schloss, who lived next door, disappeared in August 2007.

Prosecutors say Schloss was abducted from her home and killed. Her partially burned body was found in a wooded area in Wasilla, an hour's drive from Anchorage. According to court papers, she had been tortured and shot to death.

Prosecutors say Wade drove Schloss' car back to Anchorage where he stashed it near the airport and then withdrew money using her ATM card from her bank account. Withdrawal receipts were found in the pocket of his jacket, prosecutors said.

Wade was charged with kidnapping, torture, murder and stealing her car.

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