Archive for Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Third defendant in 2005 Dollar General murder gets maximum juvenile sentence

A four-year jail sentence was handed down Wednesday for the third and final suspect in a 2005 murder at the Bonner Springs Dollar General.

May 13, 2009


The third and final suspect in the Dollar General murder in Bonner Springs was sentenced Wednesday to the maximum amount allowed for a juvenile.

Amber Russell, 18, of Lenexa, was sentenced to juvenile lockup until age 22 and a half and will receive after-care until age 23.

Russell pleaded guilty April 13 to first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery for her participation in the Nov. 11, 2005, murder of Robin Bell at the Bonner Springs Dollar General.

Russell, who was 15 at the time of the murder, made a deal with the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office that she would be tried as a minor in exchange for her truthful testimony in the trials of Robert Haberlein and John Backus. Both men were sentenced last month to life in prison for their involvement in the murder.

Wyandotte County Deputy District Attorney Sheryl Lidtke said she hated that a plea deal had to be made with Russell but that the case would not have moved forward without Russell’s testimony.

“This was a horrendous case factual,” Lidtke said of why she requested the maximum sentence possible for Russell.

Lidtke said that while no evidence was found that showed Russell ever struck any of the deadly blows that ended Bell’s life, Russell was still a clear participant. Lidtke said it was the financial troubles of Russell’s family that led to the crime in the first place.

Lidtke also said that at one point Bell almost escaped by running out the store’s back door. After being caught and dragged back into the store, Bell looked Russell in the eye and begged for help, Lidtke said.

“Ms. Russell had the opportunity to assist Robin Bell, yet Ms. Russell didn’t do the right thing. She made a lot of bad choices that night,” Lidtke said.

During several interviews with Russell over the course of the trial, Lidtke said Russell never showed compassion for Bell.

“She just didn’t have any sympathy or empathy for what had happened to Robin Bell,” Lidtke said. “She did care a lot, however, what was going to happen to her.”

Russell chose not to speak during the sentencing, but her lawyer said that Russell had expressed how sorry she was for the outcome of that night.


fu7il3 8 years, 11 months ago

Four years for murder. There has to be something wrong with that.

beawolf 8 years, 11 months ago

At least the other 2 are behind bars for life. Let's hope that Russell will benefit from her incarceration. I doubt it, but you never know.

Chris Ogle 8 years, 11 months ago

I could understand an 7 or 8 yr. old..... but at 18 years of age.. 4 years sounds like a slap in the face to the victim.

beawolf 8 years, 11 months ago

"but at 18 years of age".......

She was 15 when the crime was committed.

"She took a life, she owes one"...

She did not kill anyone, but was present and a willing observer.

BTW, I'm not defending her or the punishment, just setting the record straight.

kroy77 8 years, 11 months ago

Let's remimber people that she was 15 when this occurred and is 18 now. She has been locked up since she was 15 and will be locked up until 22 and half. She did give testimony that helped convict the other two and she did not actually commit the murder. She'll also have live with this the rest of her life.

momieslilgirls 8 years, 11 months ago

BULL! Robin was not only a family friend she was my Mom's best friend, she had 2 wonderful daughter's one of which was pregnant with her 1st child and Robin's 1st grandchild at the time. Robin never had a chance to see her daughter get married or meet that grandchild. I feel this poor waste of human flesh shoud riot in jail with her cohorts. We are forgeting they planned this, would you all feel this way if this was your Mom, daughter, or sister that was murdered so brutally. Put yourself in Robin's shoes, this girl had a chance to change things and she is showing no remorse. As for her beingh 15, I don't know a 15 year old out there that thinks this way and it wasn't that long ago I was 15 myself. This girl deserved so much more, the justice system failed us.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 11 months ago

kroy77 is right. At 15, she wasn't as able as we are to make good choices, and she's been in jail for a long time (and will be in jail for some time to come).

"Lidtke said it was the financial troubles of Russell’s family that led to the crime in the first place."

I don't like this in the story. What led to the crime was poor judgement and low morals. The world is full of poor people who don't turn to murder to solve their issues. "Financial troubles" can be considered a motivating factor, but not a cause.

notajayhawk 8 years, 11 months ago

OldEnuf2BYurDad (Anonymous) says…

"kroy77 is right. At 15, she wasn't as able as we are to make good choices, and she's been in jail for a long time (and will be in jail for some time to come)."

Unfortunately, this is how we learn to make good choices - by dealing with the consequences of our actions. She participated in a murder. And she got away with it by turning on her fellow perpetrators and hanging them out to dry. I'm sorry, but while a fifteen-year-old may not have a fully developed brain, most fifteen-year-olds pretty much understand killing people is a no-no.

Kawatchi 8 years, 11 months ago

I love the message this send to 15 year olds. If you are going to murder, do it soon!

kmat 8 years, 11 months ago

Give me a break with the crap that she's only 15 and her brain isn't developed yet!

At age 15, many of you are teaching your kids to drive, they're starting to get their first jobs and move onto high school. Please, someone come forward and blatently say that a 15 year old doesn't know that it is not ok to MURDER someone.

Those making this statement need a good slap upside the head. This girl helped plan and watch as a woman was brutally murdered. Small children know to call for help. This girl needs to be locked up for more time.

kmat 8 years, 11 months ago

I was a teacher and have had tons of child development and child psych classes. Yes, kids brains are still developing at 15 (called pruning and strengthening). BUT, children as young as 2 understand the difference between right and wrong. The "true" understanding of right and wrong is around age 9 (they understand the golden rule). A 15 year old does know what is wrong. What they may have difficulties with is urges, emotions, motivation.

Especially since they say this girl has no empathy after being a part of and watching a woman get beaten to death - she shouldn't be released at 22.

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