Warning: The details in the story below are disturbing.
A Texas woman was sentenced to spend a half-century behind bars for her role in the vicious 2019 murder of her pregnant roommate, which she orchestrated with two others because they wanted the expecting mother to “feel the pain of a miscarriage,” authorities said.
Courtney Dawn Whitley, of Abilene, was handed a 50-year prison sentence on Monday after entering an open plea for killing her 24-year-old housemate Kelly Holder and her unborn child in August 2019, Abilene CBS affiliate KTAB-TV reported. Defendants entering into an open plea receive no assurances from prosecutors regarding sentencing. The two others who lived in the house and took part in the ruthless torture and beating—Alexander Christopher Lopez, 30 and Casey Kennedy, 27—also entered open pleas to the murder charges but have not yet been sentenced.
Officers with the Taylor County Police Department on Aug. 3, 2019 responded to a call a residence located in the 1700 block of South Fifth Street. Upon arriving at the scene, first-responders discovered Holder not breathing. She was rushed to the hospital where doctors pronounced her and her unborn child dead.
Court documents reportedly said doctors told police that Holder, who had recently learned that she was six-weeks pregnant, was subjected to an “extreme beating.” An autopsy reportedly determined that her death was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma to her torso and asphyxiation. She was also the victim of a repulsive sexual assault, with the autopsy report reportedly saying that a large object had been “forced in her rectum.”
Lopez and Kennedy initially told investigators that they had returned home from a walk to find Holder to be unresponsive in the bathtub, according to a report from the Abilene Reporter News. The two allegedly told police at the scene that they were the only two people at the home aside from Holder, but investigators then found Whitley “hiding” inside the residence.
All three suspects initially told investigators that they had no idea how Holder could have sustained her grotesque array of injuries, but their stories did not match up, KTAB reported.
Under further questioning, all three suspects reportedly confessed to the murder and “admitted they were angry with Holder” because they believed she had caused Whitley to suffer a recent miscarriage. They also thought Holder was “allowing men to enter the house while everyone was sleeping so they could rape Courtney and Casey,” per the Abilene Reporter.
Court documents reportedly said that the trio attacked Holder on Aug. 2 when she refused to admit that she was responsible for causing Whitley’s miscarriage. All three reportedly admitted to kicking and punching the pregnant woman in the chest, pelvis, and torso multiple times. They also all admitted to strangling Holder. Whitley reportedly told investigators that she “bounced up and down” on Holder’s stomach.
The women both told investigators they sought to make Holder “feel the pain of a miscarriage,” court documents reportedly said.
Court documents also said that after they were done beating Holder, Lopez “handed Casey a wooden rod” and told him “to treat Ms. Holder as if she was in prison,” KTAB reported. Kennedy reportedly gave the god to Whitley, “who used it to subject Holder to a grotesque sexual assault,” the report stated.
Lopez and Kennedy are currently scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 12 and Dec. 17, respectively.
[images via Taylor County Jail]
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