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Two sentenced in 2011 shooting death

Two residents of Elk County have been sentenced in connection with the killing of a man from Oak Valley. The pair will serve at least 15 years behind bars, according to their criminal defense attorneys. Both of the suspects had pleaded guilty to the charges they faced in association with the shooting death.

Official reports show that the 29-year-old woman received a sentence of 203 months in prison for her role in the alleged murder. The 28-year-old man, who was said to have shot the 47-year-old victim in November of 2011, received a 165-month sentence in connection with the killing. He also will serve a 15-month term on drug charges and was also accused of possessing a large enough quantity of methamphetamine to qualify as a distributor.

The convicted parties were also ordered to pay more than $2,000 in restitution for their crimes, according to reports from the courthouse.

In this case, the defendants' attorneys did not advise them to take their case to trial. If the pair had pleaded not guilty, they likely would have faced a long jury trial to determine whether they were guilty of the crimes. Instead, by entering the guilty plea, the pair likely received a lighter sentence than if they had been sent to trial.

People in criminal defense cases are often encouraged to plead guilty if it appears that the evidence connecting them to the crime is overwhelming. This is evaluated during legal conversations prior to the trial. In this case, it was likely a smarter gamble to plead guilty than to face a jury, perhaps because of the preponderance of evidence that could have led to a conviction that carried a more severe punishment.

Defendants are urged to solicit legal advice before deciding to plead guilty to a crime. Each criminal case is different, and a qualified attorney can provide you with a plan of action based on your specific needs.

Source: The Wichita Eagle, "Two Elk Co. residents sentenced for murder of Oak Valley man," Amy Renee Leiker, July 23, 2012

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