By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
A Mercer County woman pleaded guilty Thursday to a lesser charge of second-degree murder in connection with the March 2011 death of a Princeton man.
Tammy Lee Keen, 39, of Princeton, was arrested in August 2012 and charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of 41-year-old Timothy DeWitt of Princeton. DeWitt’s body was found March 2011 off Eads Mill Road near Bluestone Falls in an area known as the gorge.
Keen had previously agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder. She entered a plea of guilty to that charge Thursday afternoon before Circuit Court Judge William Sadler. Second-degree murder carries a possible sentence of 40 years.
Keen also pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery, which carries a sentence of 10 years. The sentences would run consecutively, so Keen faces a determinant sentence of 50 years. She would not be eligible for parole until almost 17 years are served. Keen acknowledged as part of the plea agreement that a firearm had been used in both crimes, and that she was “a principle in the first degree,” Sadler said when reading the agreement. Both of these admissions would impact when she could be eligible for parole.
Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash told the court that if Keen’s case had gone to trial, the state would have shown that Keen had conspired with co-defendants Thomas Tyler Hall, 39, of Princeton and Chad Hylton, 35, who is currently being held in a Montgomery County, Va., jail on unrelated charges, to rob DeWitt.
The plan was for Keen to lure DeWitt to the gorge so he could be robbed; instead, he was shot and killed, Ash said.
Hall pleaded guilty March 5 to second-degree murder. His sentencing has been set for April 29.
Hall is facing a sentence of 10 to 40 years in prison. Prosecutors did not know exactly when Hylton could be brought back to Mercer County.
Judge Sadler scheduled Keen’s sentencing for April 29. He ordered a pre-sentencing investigation.
—Contact Greg Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org