- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—A former fire chief pleaded no contest Monday to two charges alleging he attempted to hire a person to kill a custody battle adversary.

Bill Crenshaw, 54, of McAlester, once the leader of the Shady Grove Volunteer Fire Department, made the plea agreement at the Pittsburg County Courthouse. He pleaded no contest to solicitation for murder in the first degree and conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree. Pittsburg County Associate District Judge Tim Mills sentenced Crenshaw to 20 years suspended for the solicitation charge and 10 years suspended for the conspiracy charge — following a plea deal made by District 18 prosecutors and Crenshaw’s defense attorneys.

A plea of no contest is not an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgment that if the case were to go to trial a verdict of guilty would be possible.

Crenshaw was charged with the counts, along with Shonda Miller, 41, in September. Authorities said the pair attempted to pay a man named Jason Walters to kill a woman named Crystal Lee. Lee is the mother of Crenshaw’s granddaughter. Authorities said the pair attempted to hire Walters shortly after Lee filed for custody of the child.

Walters ended up reporting the alleged activities to Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation authorities, according to an affidavit. Crenshaw and Miller were arrested soon after.

The two counts Crenshaw pleaded to will be served concurrently, meaning both sentences will be served at the same time. He was also fined $500 for each count, ordered to pay $200 to the victim compensation fund and will have to pay court cost amassed during his legal proceedings.

Crenshaw will also undergo two years of district attorney supervision. He is also to have no contact with Lee or the child — unless otherwise stated in custody documents.

On Monday, Lee spoke to the court and said she agreed with the punishment imposed on Crenshaw. She told the court she still has trouble grasping the reason behind Crenshaw’s alleged actions.

“I just don’t understand why,” Lee said.

District 18 Assistant District Attorney Adam Scharn asked Lee to tell the court she met with himself, District Attorney Farley Ward and an OSBI investigator before the hearing and was made fully aware of the plea deal.

Lee responded “Yes sir.”

When asked if she approved of the plea deal, she said “I do.”

The plea agreement was announced in place of a preliminary hearing. It was the fourth scheduled preliminary hearing in the case.

Miller had her charge of solicitation dismissed following an appeal. She still faces a conspiracy to commit murder charge and is due in court on Friday for a sounding of the docket, when the status of a pending trial on the charge is expected to be determined.

Contact Parker Perry at [email protected]

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(c)2015 the McAlester News-Capital (McAlester, Okla.)

Visit the McAlester News-Capital (McAlester, Okla.) at mcalesternews.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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