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Teen Gets Life in Prison for Murdering 73-Year-Old Man

March 18, 1996 GMT

WHITE CLOUD, Mich. (AP) _ A teen-ager who invited friends over to party and see the blanket-wrapped body of the dead man in whose trailer she lived was sentenced to life in prison Monday for his murder.

Devon Watts, a troubled girl with a history of bad relationships with older men, had been living with 73-year-old Leonard Hughey in his trailer about 50 miles north of Grand Rapids.

Watts, 17, said she was to marry Hughey last October, but his family denied the two had a romantic relationship.

According to a confession Watts later recanted, a friend, Kelly Heemstra, held the gun while Watts pulled the trigger July 28 after an argument over whether Heemstra could stay at the trailer.

Several friends testified that they were invited to see the body wrapped in a blanket in a shed. They also drank alcohol and smoked marijuana, and one boy said he had sex with Watts.

``It was his home and he had the right to ask you to leave,″ Hughey’s daughter Cheryl Kay said at the sentencing. ``With the knowledge that you planned it, carried it out and then showed off his body, much like a hunter shows his prize deer, makes us realize how callous you are.″

Watts said in court that her confession was a lie. She acknowledged spiking Hughey’s food with insecticide but blamed the murder on Heemstra.

The jury convicted Watts of first-degree murder Jan. 10. She got an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole plus two years for use of a firearm.

Heemstra pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and will be sentenced March 26.