ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (WNDU) – One U.S. soldier has pleaded guilty to killing another, apparently to further his romance with the wife of the deceased.
Jeremy Cuellar and Kemia Hassel
Twenty-five-year-old Jeremy Cuellar was scheduled to go on trial next month. Instead, Cuellar made the plea in court Monday evening.
He was the alleged co-conspirator in the murder of Sgt. Tyrone Hassel III, along with Hassel's wife, Kemia Hassel.
Cuellar pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. In exchange, the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office dropped two other counts.
The agreement calls for a minimum sentence of 65 years in prison with a possible maximum of life in prison.
Cuellar will be sentenced on Sept. 23.
“I guess it’s good. I mean, 65 years is a life sentence to me. He’ll be 90 when he comes home, so I guess I’m satisfied with it,” said the victim’s father, Tyrone Hassel Jr.
Cuellar’s attorney said the original offer called for a plea of no contest but that Cuellar wanted to take responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty.
As Cuellar left the courtroom Monday, he said something toward the gallery where relatives of the victim were seated.
“He said he knows that we don’t want to hear what he's got to say, but please come and hear what he's got to say, something that he wants said, I want to hear it,” Tyrone Hassel Jr. said. “I think it’s eating away at him. So, whatever he has to say, I definitely want to hear.”
Some of what was said at Monday's court hearing was hard to hear. Cuellar said he shot Tyrone Hassel III “three, four or five” times in the head while standing about 4 feet away.
A jury found Kemia Hassel guilty of first-degree premeditated murder in her husband's death on July 18. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 29.