Krystal Harden, the second suspect in a 2006 case in which a Palm Bay man was murdered for about $100 and a car, will be sentenced in May to 40 years in prison.
She interrupted jury selection Monday in favor of taking a plea deal, prosecutors said.
Harden was facing trial on charges of first-degree murder and robbery with a deadly weapon for her participation -- along with her boyfriend, Deo Frazer -- in connection with the Oct. 8, 2006, death of 20-year-old Christopher Wiggs.
But, during jury selection Monday, prosecutors said Harden, 20, agreed to plead guilty instead to a lesser offense of second-degree murder and the original robbery charge.
Harden would have faced a mandatory life sentence if convicted at trial of the first-degree murder, whereas under the second-degree murder charge, the judge has discretion on handing down a sentence of anything up to life. The robbery charge also is punishable by up to life.
Sentencing is set for 8 a.m. May 6 before Circuit Judge Jim Earp at the Moore Justice Center in Viera.
"There's an inherent risk in all jury trials, and we weigh that against the evidence, and 40 years was a fair resolution of this case," prosecutor Susan Garrett said.
According to trial testimony heard earlier this year during Frazer's trial, Harden -- a longtime acquaintance of Wiggs -- lured Wiggs to her apartment at the Oakwood Villas in Palm Bay under the guise of an "early-morning rendezvous."
Frazer, hiding behind the bedroom door with a knife, slashed Wiggs nine times, severing his jugular vein, prosecutors said.
Wiggs' body was found dumped at a West Melbourne subdivision construction site.
Prosecutors said Wiggs, who investigators said was known to carry large amounts of money, also was robbed of his sneakers and jewelry.
Police became suspicious of the couple after Harden's aunt called police to say there was blood in her guest bedroom where her then-17-year-old niece and boyfriend were staying, and that the couple and a comforter -- which matched the one in which Wiggs was found -- were missing.
Meanwhile, upon notification of her son's death, Wiggs' mother reported that the green Nissan Altima she had lent her son was missing.
In her confession to police, Harden admitted to helping plan the robbery, but denied having prior knowledge about the stabbing, Garrett said.
Frazer initially supported Harden's statement, Garrett said. But he recanted when he took the stand, saying Harden already had committed the murder when he returned home, but that he took the rap partly to protect her and partly because a detective allegedly threatened him with the death penalty if he didn't cooperate, attorneys said.
Garrett said there's no evidence Harden -- who denied any prior knowledge of or participation in the stabbing -- wielded the knife, but "she was an active participant in the robbery. Therefore, she is responsible for the death of the individual under the felony murder law."
Frazer, 23, was sentenced last week to two concurrent life sentences following a jury conviction on charges of first-degree murder and robbery.
(Source : www.floridatoday.com)