- Associated Press - Sunday, May 17, 2015

COVINGTON, La. (AP) - A 24-year-old man has been convicted of stabbing a 32-year-old Slidell woman to death in 2012, then setting her body afire.

Devin Baham testified that he knew nothing about the death of Ashley King, but jurors convicted him of manslaughter, aggravated arson and obstructing justice.

Judge Allison Penzato will sentence him June 22.

Baham had been charged with second-degree murder, which carries an automatic sentence of life in prison. The manslaughter conviction carries a maximum 40-year sentence.

Baham was convicted on the same charges to which prosecution witness Andrew Sumner pleaded guilty. Each blamed the killing on the other.

Sumner testified that they went together to rob King of cash and prescription painkillers, and Baham punched and grabbed her without warning. Baham testified that he did not go to King’s apartment with Sumner.

Sumner told jurors that he could serve up to 100 years, though his plea agreement could mean a reduced sentence.

Defense attorney Martin Regan told The New Orleans Advocate (https://bit.ly/1dbtXsj ) that prior theft convictions make it likely that prosecutors will ask Penzato to give him a long sentence as a multiple offender.

He said prosecutors offered Baham a plea deal before the jury was sworn in Monday, but Baham went to trial because he is “adamant that he is not guilty.”

The defense has several issues for appeal, he said, including the fact that the arson charge gave the wrong address.

Katelyn Lusich, who drove the getaway car and assisted in the cover-up, pleaded guilty in September to obstruction of justice. Prosecutors are expected to drop charges of second-degree murder and aggravated arson as part of her plea deal. Lusich was 17 at the time of the crime and 7 1/2 months pregnant with Sumner’s child.

King’s father, sister and other relatives had crowded one side of the courtroom for a week. King’s younger sister, Brittany, was among those who came to Covington from Louisville, Kentucky.

“I’m ecstatic at this point,” she told NOLA.com ‘ The Times-Picayune (https://bit.ly/1Hb0WUD ) after the three unanimous verdicts were announced. “It’s been so emotional, and I almost can’t believe it because I had been a little worried.”

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