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Colorado man admits to killing Montana teacher in cocaine frenzy

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A Colorado man accused of killing a Montana teacher during a cocaine-fueled frenzy pleaded guilty to murder on Wednesday as part of a deal in which prosecutors will dismiss a kidnapping charge in the case, court documents showed.

Michael Spell, 25, of Parachute, Colorado, admitted his role in the strangling death of math instructor Sherry Arnold while prosecutors dropped a count of attempted kidnapping, according to the plea agreement.

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A Montana judge approved the deal and accepted Spell’s plea at a hearing on Wednesday afternoon.

Prosecutors are recommending a prison term of 100 years for the crime of deliberate homicide, but would place no restrictions on Spell’s eligibility for parole during that period, according to the deal.

Arnold, 43, vanished Jan. 7, 2012, after setting off for a pre-dawn run in her northeastern Montana home town of Sidney, where a regional oil boom has sharply increased population and crime.

Spell later told authorities he and Lester Waters, a friend from Parachute, had smoked crack cocaine and were driving through Sidney toward neighboring Williston, North Dakota, for oilfield jobs when Arnold jogged by. Waters ordered him to pull her into their Ford Explorer, according to Spell’s account.

Spell told investigators that Waters “choked her out” in the back seat, but prosecutors alleged in court documents that Spell strangled her.

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Arnold “lay dead inside the vehicle and under a blanket” while the men drove to Williston, where they threw her clothing into a dumpster and bought a shovel to bury her body in a shallow grave outside town, a Montana prosecutor said in a sworn statement.

Waters, 50, pleaded guilty last year to a charge of deliberate homicide in Arnold’s death. He has not yet been sentenced.

Both Waters and Spell initially faced kidnapping and murder charges and pleaded not guilty. Spell’s competence had been at the center of several court hearings in Montana as his attorneys sought to prove he was unfit for trial because of mental deficiencies.

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Under the terms of the plea agreement, Spell’s attorneys can recommend a lesser sentence or commitment to a Montana Department of Health and Human Services facility.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Salmon, Idaho; Editing by Dan Whitcomb, Andre Grenon and Eric Walsh)

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WATCH: John Oliver exposes Trump’s lies about vote-by-mail — and the Fox News ‘cult’ claiming the election is already ‘rigged’

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"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver's main story Sunday refuted President Donald Trump's latest crusade against vote-by-mail. Trump announced on Twitter that the more people who vote in an election, the more Republicans tend to lose. So, he wants fewer people to have access to the ballot in November, even if people are too scared to go out during the coronavirus crisis.

Oliver called out Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R-MO), who outright told people not to vote if they were too afraid to vote in the local elections next week.

"Well, hold on there," Oliver interjected. "Voting is a right. It has to be easy to understand and accessible to anyone."

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John Oliver rips Fox News’ Tucker Carlson for urging ‘order’ from people of color — but never demanding it of police

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John Oliver opened his Sunday show, shredding Fox News host Tucker Carlson for uring "order" among protesters, but refusing to urge "order" to police and "wannabe police" who can't stop killing people.

It's a lot, Oliver explained. "How these protests are a response to a legacy of police misconduct, both in Minneapolis and the nation at large and how that misconduct is, itself, built on a legacy of white supremacy that prioritizes the comfort of white Americans over the safety of people of color."

While some of it is complicated, Oliver conceded, most of it is "all too clear."

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Cars set on fire blocks from White House as DC protests turn violent

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The Washington, D.C. protests turned violent as the city approached the 11 p.m. curfew the mayor instituted Sunday afternoon.

The policy of D.C. police is that when they are attacked, they advance forward. So, when fireworks were fired, the line of officers began pushing the protesters back further from the White House. Behind the line of police officers also stand a line of National Guard troops that President Donald Trump has demanded stand watch in the city.

Lights that normally shine on the White House have also been turned off, reporters revealed.

https://twitter.com/markknoller/status/1267291138655956992

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