Kemia Hassel sentenced to life in prison in husband's murder

NOW: Kemia Hassel sentenced to life in prison in husband’s murder

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. --  The military wife convicted of plotting her husband's murder in Berrien County will now spend the rest of her life behind bars for taking his.

Thursday morning Kemia Hassel was formally sentenced to life without parole in the New Year’s Eve killing of Staff Sergeant Tyrone Hassel III.

The victim’s mother and father both addressed Kemia in court.

“I want you to spend every day suffering behind bars for the rest of your life, and I hope every time you close your eyes, my son tap you on the shoulders and smile,” said Tyrone’s mother Lashanda Jones in the courtroom.

“You’re a cold blooded murder. You killed my son without emotion or pity,” she said.

Tyrone Hassel II made it clear that his son truly loved Kemia in his statement.

“He was something to everybody he met. But to you he was expendable he was a check. $400,000 check,” he said to Kemia.

The 22-year-old soldier was convicted of first degree murder and conspiracy in January.

She planned the deadly ambush shooting of her husband on New Year’s Eve with her boyfriend another soldier Jeremy Cuellar, so they could start a new life together the life insurance money from the Army.

“I had love for her, like a lot of love for her. So for her to do that, she betrayed everyone, and I’m really happy that she got what she deserved,” Jones said in an interview with ABC57 after the sentencing.

“She understands what she’s looking at she understands that she may never see her son again without glass involved. So I think it’s all slowly starting to sink in,” said Kemia’s attorney Chris Kessel.

Throughout sentencing, Kemia sat still and emotionless, choosing not to speak in court.

“I’ve seen a side of her that no one else has seen. She wants to be strong out here. She doesn’t want to let people see any weakness,” said Kessel. “A lot of defendants say nothing just because if they decide to appeal, they don’t want anything they have to say at sentencing to be used against her.”

 “I’m not surprised that she didn’t speak because the only hope that she’s hanging on to is the appeal,” Hassel II said to ABC57.

Kessel believes she has solid issues for an appeal.

“There were some issues regarding Mr. Cuellar’s statements, possibly some issues regarding my client’s statements.”

Tyrone and Kemia had a baby together. Now, he’s two years old and has lost both of his parents.

His grandparents haven’t seen him since December 2018.

“I just want to let him know that his father was awesome. He can do anything that he put his mind to, he can do it. And I just want to let him know he has an amazing father,” said Jones.

Jones says that she is happy that the death penalty is not an option in the State of Michigan.

She said the death penalty would be the easy way out for Kemia.

Tyrone’s father says that many have asked if the military will take Kemia’s case to trial, but that’s something that he does not want to happen. He tells ABC57 from his understanding; the military is not pursing it.

“That’s one thing I didn’t want, and I think she’s in agreeance, because the military has the death penalty. I don’t want that,” he said.

Kessel says he doesn’t think the army will take on a trial based on Kemia’s sentence.

ABC57 did reach out to the Army to find out, but has not yet received a response.

Hassel II says Kemia and Jeremy Cuellar were dishonorably discharged shortly after the murder.

Jeremy Cuellar, pleaded guilty to second degree murder in July 2019. The other charges, conspiracy to commit murder and felony firearm, were dismissed as a result of the plea deal.

He is set to be sentenced September 23.

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