- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

STERLING, Colo. (AP) - A teenager who helped her boyfriend kill his grandparents so he could get a modest inheritance was sentenced Friday to 80 years in prison.

Cassandra Rieb, 19, struck a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree assault with a deadly weapon on an at-risk victim, The Sterling Journal-Advocate reports (https://goo.gl/PMx1Aw). She faced a possible death sentence in the May 2014 strangulation deaths of Charles and Shirley Severance, both 70.

Rieb’s co-defendant, Brendan Johnson, 20, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of his grandmother and was sentenced Monday to life in prison without parole. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty.

Investigators said Rieb and Johnson told them they had planned for a few weeks to smother the Severances with pillows as they slept, but the effort became complicated when the couple put up a struggle. Rieb said they wanted to get the grandparents’ small house and $20,000 that Johnson expected to inherit.

The grandmother’s burned remains were found in two locations, outside Sterling and about 30 miles away in Lorenzo, Nebraska. Authorities say Johnson and Rieb called 911 to report they had found the grandfather’s body, which was too heavy for them to dispose of as allegedly planned.

At Friday’s hearing, Rieb apologized and said she recognized that the plea deal has given her a second chance. “I will not waste this gift,” she said.

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Information from: Journal-Advocate, https://www.journal-advocate.com/

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