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Published: Tuesday, 3/23/2010

Woman enters plea in death of man killed in alley

cty SAMANTHA STEWART     Police photo   ***   NOT BLADE PHOTO      Samantha Stewart cty SAMANTHA STEWART Police photo *** NOT BLADE PHOTO Samantha Stewart

The second person involved in the Sept. 24 shooting death of a man, who was robbed and left in a West Toledo alley, entered a plea in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Tuesday.

Samantha Stewart, 19, of 2326 Genesee St., entered an Alford plea to one count each of murder with a gun specification and aggravated robbery. She faces life in prison when sentenced April 15 by Judge Frederick McDonald.

Stewart was convicted for the death of Kevin Dunklin, whom she lured to the alley where he was shot by co-defendant Chad Irbey. Irbey, 22, also of the Genesee address, entered a similar plea March 2.

Authorities said Stewart and Irbey had devised a plan to rob the victim. He said that Dunklin was an ex-boyfriend of Stewart's, and that she had set up a meeting in an alley near Burnham and Vermaas avenues.

Once there, Dunklin's car was approached by Stewart on the passenger side and Irbey on the driver's side. Irbey then fired five shots at Dunklin, two of them striking him in the head.

Authorities said that the two pulled Dunklin from his car, robbed him of cash, and drove off in his vehicle. They then attempted to break into the hotel room where he had been staying but were unsuccessful.

The couple later dumped the vehicle in Hecklinger Pond in East Toledo.

Stewart and Irbey were initially charged with aggravated murder, murder, and aggravated robbery, all with gun specifications.

As part of the negotiated deal, the aggravated murder charge as well as the gun specification for the robbery charge will be dismissed.

In an Alford plea, a defendant maintains his or her innocence or does not admit to committing a crime, but pleads guilty for his or her best interest. The court treats it as a guilty plea.

Judge McDonald has no discretion in sentencing Irbey and Stewart to life in prison with eligibility for parole after 18 years for the murder charge and accompanying gun specification.

The judge can add 10 years for the aggravated robbery either as a consecutive or concurrent sentence, meaning the maximum sentence both face is 28 years to life in prison.

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