Murder conviction affirmed for woman sentenced in Army sergeant husband’s shooting death

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 11:28 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WNDU) - The conviction of Kemia Hassel in the 2018 murder of her late husband, Tyrone Hassel III, in St. Joseph Township has been affirmed by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

According to our reporting partners at The Herald-Palladium, the court denied Kemia’s appeal, which was based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. She claimed her lawyers failed to pursue a defense case of “battered partner syndrome” and failed to file a motion to suppress her statements to police.

In an affidavit attached to her motion for a new trial, Kemia claimed she was subjected to extensive physical, verbal, and emotional abuse during her marriage to Tyrone.

Kemia was found guilty by a Berrien County jury in July 2019 of first-degree premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Although Kemia did not pull the trigger, evidence throughout her trial in 2019 showed she and her lover, Jeremy Cuellar, plotted the killing so they could be together and collect $400,000 in life insurance from the Army.

Cuellar, who shot Tyrone, ultimately pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and is serving a 65-to-90-year prison sentence. His appeals to date have also been unsuccessful.

All three were serving in the U.S. Army in South Korea at the time, and all three were on leave.

In police interviews, Kemia initially denied any involvement. But after failing a lie detector test, she admitted to taking part in the killing of her husband by notifying Cuellar of his whereabouts.