Two plead in connection with murder

By Erin Mathews

The Salina Journal

SALINA -- Two plead in connection with murder

By ERIN MATHEWS Salina Journal -- Saturday, April 19, 2014 2:00 AM

A Salina man who admitted to fatally beating a woman with a chain pleaded guilty Friday to first-degree murder, and a woman accused of helping plan an alibi for her boyfriend in connection with the murder pleaded no contest to obstruction.

Joel M. Heil, 25, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder in connection with the murder of 27-year-old Kristin Tyler, who was killed on the night of April 25 or early morning of April 26, 2013. He also pleaded guilty to attempted robbery for attempting to take purses from two women. That incident occurred between April 10 and May 7, 2013.

In exchange, charges of possession of methamphetamine and conspiracy were dropped, and prosecutors agreed not to seek a Hard 50 sentence against Heil. Heil is expected to receive a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years served when he is sentenced at 3 p.m. June 17 in Saline County District Court.

Heil, who testified earlier this month in the trial of his co-defendant, Dane DeWeese, 33, entered into an agreement with prosecutors in January in which he would plead guilty and testify truthfully against DeWeese and any others accused in the case.

Girlfriend enters plea

Also entering a plea Friday was DeWeese's girlfriend, Megan V. Wells, 21. Wells pleaded no contest to a charge of obstructing apprehension for prosecution for her role in assisting DeWeese in eluding arrest. She originally had been charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

DeWeese and Wells left Salina and entered an inpatient drug treatment program shortly after Tyler was murdered.

Wells is also scheduled for sentencing at 3 p.m. June 17. She faces a possible sentence of seven to 23 months in prison, depending on her criminal history, but she is presumed to receive probation for the offense, according to sentencing guidelines.

On Friday, Judge Jared Johnson reduced Wells' bond to $1,500 and approved contact between her and DeWeese's family for purposes of caring for her and DeWeese's baby. Johnson warned her that if illegal drug usage becomes a problem, she will return to custody.

DeWeese was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder at the conclusion of a two-week trial earlier this month. He is set for sentencing at 9 a.m. June 16.

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