SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A Springfield woman who helped orchestrate a home invasion murder was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison.
Kearstain Sleeth, 27, was sentenced to the prison time at a hearing in front of Judge Calvin Holden.
Sleeth was convicted of second-degree murder in January for her role in the 2014 killing of 31-year-old Curtis Payne.
Prosecutors say Sleeth told three of her teenage friends that she had been sexually assaulted by Payne.
Sleeth then drove her friends over to Payne's house on Dollison Avenue in Springfield on Feb. 11, 2014.
Prosecutors say the three teens broke into Payne's home, and two of them shot Payne to death while Sleeth waited in a car outside.
Two of the teens - Jeremiah Devaliti and Kaleb Moore - have pleaded guilty in this case. The final suspect, Tyler Keithley, is scheduled to stand trial later this year.
Though Sleeth was not directly involved in killing Payne, prosecutors argued that she was guilty of what's called "felony murder."
To prove felony murder, prosecutors must show that a defendant committed a felony and that led to someone's death. In this case, the felony was accessory to first-degree burglary, since Sleeth "aided and encouraged" the teens to break into Payne's home.
During the jury trial in January, Sleeth's attorney Donald Cooley argued that his client was a victim of sexual assault.
Cooley told the jurors Sleeth did not know that her friends were going to kill Payne, and convicting her could dissuade victims of sexual assault from coming forward in the future.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, pointed out that Sleeth's story changed several times, and she might not have been sexually assaulted by Payne.
Also, prosecutors say Sleeth went beyond simply confiding in her friends when she drove them to Payne's residence, gave one of them a gun and then pointed out Payne's room before the teens broke in and killed Payne.
Prosecutors say after the homicide, Sleeth drove the teens out to Fellows Lake, where they ditched their weapons.
It was a text message that Sleeth allegedly sent Payne before the homicide that helped detectives piece together who was involved.
It took authorities five months to charge Sleeth with Payne's murder.
Sleeth faced a possible 30-year sentence. Prosecutors say they asked for 15 years.
(Story shared by Springfield News-Leader. Read the original article here.)
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