Crime

Bradenton woman beat her 82-year-old neighbor to death with a lamp and fire poker

Bradenton woman pleads ‘no contest’ to killing Zelma Huddleston

A Bradenton woman was sentenced to 15 years prison followed by probation for beating her neighbor to death with a lamp and fireplace poker in October 2017.
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A Bradenton woman was sentenced to 15 years prison followed by probation for beating her neighbor to death with a lamp and fireplace poker in October 2017.

Misty Whiteley was supposed to be helping to care for 82-year-old neighbor Zelma Huddleston one night in October 2017 when the woman’s daughter called and couldn’t reach her. But when the daughter arrived to check on Huddleston, she found a bloody mess and her mother dead on the floor.

Huddleston had been beaten to death with a lamp and fireplace poker from inside her home. Whiteley’s keys with a keychain that said “Misty” were beside her in a puddle of blood and her knife nearby.

When Melody McGinnis, Huddleston’s daughter, went to ask Whiteley what happened, her mother’s neighbor told her that the woman had gotten physical with her so she defended herself, according to Bradenton police.

Whiteley had blood on her hands and clothes when McGinnis and police spoke to her.

On Thursday afternoon, Whiteley, 56, pleaded no contest to charges including manslaughter as part of a negotiated plea agreement. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by 15 years of probation. Conditions of her agreement include that she undergo a mental health evaluation, any treatment deemed necessary and take any and all medications prescribed.

Whiteley is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, hyper-anxiety and chronic depression, she told Circuit Judge Lon Arend during the hearing, and is now taking prescribed medications.

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Misty Whitely, 56, stands in court to plead ‘no contest’ to killing her neighbor, 82-year-old Zelma Huddleston in Oct. of 2017. Tiffany Tompkins ttompkins@bradenton.com

Whiteley had been charged with second-degree murder, but the charge was reduced to manslaughter as part of the plea agreement.

Detectives already suspected Whiteley had killed the woman when she tried to obstruct their investigation and got violent. She attempted to run around to get inside her home after being told she couldn’t until a search of her home was done. When one detective stopped her, she kicked him.

Later, after being arrested, Whiteley kicked a crime scene technician who was trying to photograph her.

Whitely pleaded no contest to those remaining charges, two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer and one count of obstruction. She was sentenced to credit for time served for the obstruction conviction and five years in prison on the battery convictions to run concurrent with her other prison sentence.

Zelma Huddleston's daughter called 911 to report finding her mother dead on Tuesday morning. A dispatcher continues questioning her as he sends help, and the victim's daughter said it looked like she'd been killed.

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