Monday, December 15, 2008

Grand Rapids, MI lawyer's killer gets 30 to 75 years

Kent County Circuit Judge James Robert Redford sentenced Kevin Elder, 46, to 30 to 75 years today for the stabbing death of his estranged wife Tina Partee-Elder, 41, a prominent Grand Rapids attorney, while her kids, 9 and 11, were home on August 21, 2007. Those kids were forced into the basement while Elder stabbed his victim in the throat, causing deep puncture wounds, according to the Kent County Medical Examiner.

Elder pled guilty to 2nd degree murder to avoid the mandatory life without parole sentence under Michigan law for 1st degree murder, and also to spare his stepkids from taking the witness stand.

Partee's former husband and the father of her children, Fabian Newland, her brother, Terry Partee, and Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Bramble told the judge the maximum 30-year sentencing guidelines for second-degree murder with the possibility of parole did not factor in the brutality of the knife attack.

Bramble said that the fatal stabbing "was not an isolated act of domestic violence," and Judge Redford stated that Partee-Elder, who worked as a public defender, then as a attorney in private practice, was a very accomplished lawyer and truly fine person."

Redford expressed chagrin that for the second week in a row, "it is my duty to sentence a man for murdering his wife. I cannot begin to comprehend how a man can do this."

Elder's statement describing his "sorrow" at the victim's death came across as self-serving and false to her mother and other relatives in court for the sentencing.

"I'm deeply ashamed, sorrowful and embarrassed by the whole situation. I understand your pain and hatred of me and all I can say is, I'm sorry ... . I was in such an incapacitated state, I murdered my wife. I didn't know who I was or where I was."

Elder had a good life before he lost his job two years ago and turned to drugs and alcohol, according to defense attorney Robert Mirque. The night of the murder, he was high on cocaine, according to his lawyer. Partee-Elder filed for divorce in June 2007 and by July had filed a restraining order.

After the sentencing, Bette Partee, the victim's mother, stated his statment was self-serving. "You see what a manipulator he is, even to the end? He doesn't care."

In the end, Judge Redford said that due to the murder, "you extinguished a bright light...Tina is a very accomplished lawyer and truly fine person."

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