NEWPORT, Ark. – A judge agreed to a plea deal Friday that will send the man accused of killing Jackson County woman Sydney Sutherland to prison for the rest of his life.
Looking clean-shaven and significantly smaller than when he was first booked into custody, Quake Lewellyn said little as he pleaded guilty to charges of capital murder and rape in Sutherland’s death.
The plea deal will see Lewellyn avoid the death penalty and not ever be eligible to come up for parole.
Supporters of the Sutherland family packed the courtroom in Newport, where the trial had been moved after a judge ruled there was too much publicity around the case in Jackson County for it to be heard there.
The crowd of more than 60 wore pink in a show of support for the family. There was a much smaller group of around 10 people sitting with the defense.
Nearly 14 months ago, Sutherland was running on Jackson County Road 41 when troopers say Lewellyn hit her with his truck then raped her.
Crews spent days searching for the 25-year-old, with the case garnering worldwide attention.
Court documents show state police found a GPS tracking app on Lewellyn’s phone which eventually led them to Sutherland’s body.
Making a victim impact statement, Sutherland’s mother Maggy Sutherland asked Lewellyn to look her in the eyes as she called him “Satan” and said, “She was not yours to take.”
“Satan is real,” she said. “The hands you hugged me with are the same hands you killed her with.”
In March the Sutherland family told KARK 4 News anchor Mitch McCoy in an exclusive interview that they wanted Lewellyn to face the death penalty.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates from the courthouse.