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Jeannette woman wants to change guilty plea in boyfriend’s death | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Jeannette woman wants to change guilty plea in boyfriend’s death

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A Jeannette woman who faces a potential 40-year prison sentence wants to withdraw her guilty plea for the murder of her teenage boyfriend.

The lawyer for Crystal Belle, 39, filed court documents Thursday in which she now contends someone else was responsible for the beating death of Khalil Parker, 19, nearly three years ago.

“The petitioner suggests instead that Parker succumbed to head injuries inflicted by unknown parties resulting from a fight he had engaged in the days prior to his death,” wrote defense attorney Brian Aston.

Belle pleaded guilty in September to third-degree murder and other offenses related to the June 11, 2016, homicide at her South Seventh Street home.

She was originally charged with first-degree murder and faced a mandatory life sentence if convicted.

At the time of her plea, District Attorney John Peck conceded his case lacked physical evidence to support the first-degree murder charge. The prosecution would have difficulty proving which of several injuries Parker suffered caused his death, Peck said.

According to court records, Parker died from blood loss. Police found blood in several rooms throughout Belle’s apartment as well as objects believed to have been used in the assault, including a snow shovel handle.

Investigators also found blood-stained shoe laces they said bound Parker during the attack.

The blood and laces were used as part of consensual sex acts performed by Belle and Parker, Aston wrote in the court filing.

Aston said state law allows for Belle to withdraw her guilty plea before she is sentenced.

Peck said Thursday he will oppose Belle’s efforts to rescind her guilty plea.

“I do not think she raises colorable claims of innocence, and she pleaded guilty without any reservations,” Peck said.