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ADRIAN Sixteen-year-old Kristina Lynn Adkins tearfully admitted yesterday to the murder of her grandmother, accepting reduced charges in court in exchange for her guilty plea.
Adkins pleaded guilty in Lenawee County Probate Court to one count of possession of morphine and one count of second-degree murder in the 2006 poisoning death of Virginia Bentley, her grandmother and custodial parent.
'I stole my grandfather's morphine and put it in some of my grandmother's pills,' she told Judge Margaret M.S. Noe, her voice shaking.
'And your intent was to kill her?' the judge responded.
'Yes,' she responded.
Sentencing has been set for Oct. 31. She faces life in prison.
The girl had pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder, one count of open murder, and one count of poisoning in May, before accepting a plea agreement.
Prosecutors had charged that she took morphine that was prescribed to Mrs. Bentley's husband, Ireland 'Buzz' Bentley, a cancer patient, and mixed it with her grandmother's medicine on three consecutive days in July, 2006.
The girl emerged as a suspect in the case after a medical examiner determined the death was caused by morphine poisoning. She was 13 at the time of the killing; Mrs. Bentley, a Rollin Township resident, was 53.
Adkins' defense attorney, Michael McFarland, said he investigated pursuing the battered-child defense based on testimony from the girl and some of her family members. But he said the defense did not apply to premeditated murders.
Mr. McFarland said he is hopeful that the judge will agree to a 'blended sentence,' one invoking both juvenile and adult guidelines, and that less than the maximum punishment will be imposed.
Judge Noe said a presenten- cing investigation would be conducted by the county's adult and juvenile probation departments. Lenawee County Prosecutor Jonathan Poer refused to comment after the plea.
Mr. Bentley said he had mixed emotions after yesterday's hearing. 'I knew she did it,' he said. 'I'm really hurting to hear it, actually hear it out in the open.'
He said his late wife had tried to raise Adkins and her sister to 'do the right thing.'
'She done her best,' he said. 'She was trying to take care of me too, me with cancer.
She had her hands full.'
Elizabeth Zebe, a close friend and neighbor of Mrs. Bentley, said she thought Adkins deserved to spend her life in prison.
'To be 13 and be that calculating to murder someone at 13 years old that's beyond imagination,' she said. 'If she goes to prison for a long time, that's best for everybody because who knows what she could do to the next person.'
But Tina Adkins, the girl's mother, said her daughter was a victim of abuse. She said her daughter was taking medication for mental issues.
'There's a whole background history that nobody has a clue about,' Ms. Adkins said. 'Kristina is also a victim. She's a child. She's seeing a psychiatrist.'
Contact Angie Schmitt at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6104.