Murder charge dropped against woman convicted in multi-million dollar scheme

Posted at 4:48 PM, April 19, 2023 and last updated 4:48 PM, April 19, 2023


BECKLEY, W.Va. (Court TV) – A judge dismissed a murder charge filed against Natalie Cochran, who was previously convicted on charges related to a multi-million dollar scam.

Natalie Cochran was charged with murder in the death of her husband, Michael Cochran. Cochran died in 2019 under suspicious circumstances.

On Wednesday, Raleigh County Prosecutor Ben Hatfield asked the judge to dismiss the murder charge until Michael Cochran’s body could be exhumed and re-examined, MetroNews reported. The charge was dismissed without prejudice, meaning prosecutors could re-file in the future.

“I believe this gives the state more time to have that examination done in a way that does not rush the examination,” Hatfield told MetroNews. “This pretty much gives us an unlimited time to do it, although I don’t think it will take that long.”

Hatfield said the body would be examined by a pathologist in Texas, who will specifically look for the possibility that Michael Cochran died from an insulin overdose.

No further information has been released about the nature of Michael Cochran’s death. His body was exhumed once before, WVNS reported.

Hatfield told the Register-Herald that he is confident the charges will be refiled, saying, “The evidence that I have – I did not indict it the first time without sufficient evidence. This just gives me a broader look at exactly what happened.”

Natalie Cochran is currently serving a 135-month prison sentence after she pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud and unlawful monetary transaction charges. Cochran initially faced 26 charges, including identity theft and money laundering.

Court TV obtained the stipulation of facts attached to Cochran’s guilty plea, in which she outlined a scam she ran from June 2017 to August 2019. During that time, she co-owned and operated two businesses with her husband.

Cochran admitted she lied to investors, banks and other companies and said her companies had acquired federal government contracts. She collected $2.5 million in investments for federal contracts that did not exist and transferred investors’ money into her personal and business bank accounts. Using the money, Cochran purchased a number of items, including paying $37,500 for a 1965 Shelby Cobra.

Cochran was sentenced on March 18 to 135 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.