SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A woman sentenced to life in prison without parole for murdering her son's girlfriend by pushing her off a Northern California cliff told the victim's mother she does not have a guilty conscience.

Virginia Rearden, 55, received the mandatory sentence Monday from Superior Court Judge Bernard Revak in the April 2, 1987, death of her 20-year-old housemate, Deana Hubbard Wild.

A jury convicted Rearden, a retired hospital worker, on March 2 of first- degree murder and later affirmed a special circumstance that it was committed for financial gain in a scheme to collect life insurance money.

Rearden purchased a $35,000 life insurance policy in Wild's name the day before she plunged 400 feet to her death at the Seal Beach coastal overlook along Highway 1. The policy listed Rearden, her son and her then-husband as beneficiaries.

''I don't for a moment entertain the thought of Deana wanting life insurance for herself. I don't think this 20-year-old girl thought about her death,'' Revak said before pronouncing the sentence.

Rearden's husband, Billie Joe McGinnis, also was charged with Wild's murder, but died in prison before the trial began.

Wild's mother, Bobbie Roberts of Louisville, Ky., asked Revak to impose the maximum penalty.

''Deana is where no one will ever take advantage of her again,'' Roberts said. ''She looked to Mrs. Rearden as a role model.''

Just before she was sentenced, Rearden spoke for the first time in her own defense.

''Bobbie, I feel sorry for you,'' Rearden said to Wild's mother. ''I have no guilty conscience. Can you say the same?''

The defense contended Wild accidentally fell to her death.

Albert Tamayo, one of Rearden's attorneys, said he would appeal the verdict.