A Texas woman will spend the next 55 years of her life behind bars after admitting to committing the heinous crime of murdering her best friend and kidnapping her newborn.
On Thursday, in an Austin courtroom, Magen Fieramusca, 37, renounced her right to an appeal and confessed to the brutal killing of Heidi Broussard in 2019.
Originally charged with capital murder, which carried the possibility of spending the rest of her life in prison without the possibility of parole, Fieramusca’s guilty plea means she could be eligible for parole after serving just over half of her 55-year sentence. However, she will receive credit for the three years she has already spent in custody.
“This outcome is a small step towards justice for the Broussard and Carey families, but the wounds left behind by this tragedy will never fully heal,” said Travis County District Attorney José Garza in a statement on Thursday.
“This outcome will save the families from having to endure the difficult post-conviction litigation process,” Garza added. “We are grateful to our prosecutors and law enforcement partners who worked tirelessly on this case and secured justice for the victim’s families and our community.”
Fieramusca’s conviction comes a little over three years after Broussard disappeared from her Austin home. The mother of two had just given birth to her daughter Margot, when she was reported missing from the apartment she shared with her fiancé, Shane Carey, on Dec. 12, 2019. Broussard was also the mother of a 6-year-old son.
An intense and highly publicized search for Broussard led police to Fieramusca’s home in northwest Harris County, near Houston, where investigators found Broussard’s body in a duffel bag in the trunk of her car in the driveway. An autopsy later revealed she had been strangled to death with a dog leash, police said.
Thankfully, Margot was found safe and returned to her father.
Fieramusca was later arrested and charged with capital murder and tampering with a corpse. She was also initially charged with kidnapping 3-week-old Margot and claiming her as her own.
Speaking after the arrest, family friend Vickie Shreves told PEOPLE that Fieramusca pretended to be pregnant at the same time as Broussard. Shreves added that she also showed up in the hospital to hold Broussard’s hand while she was in labor, but grew increasingly somber and left when the baby was born without saying goodbye.
Broussard’s mother, Tammy Broussard, also told PEOPLE that she didn’t know why Fieramusca, who had been friends with her daughter since they met as students at the Texas Bible Institute in Columbus, Texas, killed her.
“This is unreal to us,” Tammy told PEOPLE previously. “We can’t make sense of it.”
On Thursday, Tammy spoke to Fieramusca during the hearing, multiple outlets reported.
“We miss her dearly. She’s forever strong in the midst of all the people,” she said. “She was just so much fun and just so full of life and now it’s been taken.”