GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The family of an East Kentwood graduate who was murdered by her half brother in Grand Rapids is “extremely unhappy” with a plea deal in the case, according to the Kent County prosecutor.
Savon Schmus appeared in court Monday and pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder in the 2016 death of 18-year-old McKenna Hilton. In return for the plea, the prosecutor’s office agreed to not pursue a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Authorities earlier said Schmus confessed to strangling Hilton at the Grand Rapids apartment the two shared with their father and Hilton’s mother. Schmus then allegedly drove Hilton’s body in her car to Grand Rapids Township where he dumped her body. A dog walker discovered her body on Aug. 18, 2016.
Prosecutor Chris Becker said his office decided to ask for a prison term of 30 to 40 years, given Schmus was 16 years old at the time of the crime, had no past criminal history, no record of violence at school and has never gone through behavioral or criminal rehabilitation.
He said the decision was based on U.S. Supreme Court decisions in which the justices ruled an automatic sentence of life without parole against a juvenile murderer was unconstitutional except against “the rare juvenile offender who exhibits such irretrievable depravity that rehabilitation is impossible.”
Becker said he did not think his office would be successful in pursuing a life sentence without parole in this case, given the circumstances.
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