She was accused of robbing and killing a 65-year-old man in a wheelchair.
Alicia Keator, 40, and her boyfriend, Marcus Donnell Gilbert, who was known as “Skunk”, both pleaded guilty to murder in the death of John Henry Fernandez.
The 65-year-old Fernandez was found on Jan. 2, 2018, with his hands and feet bound and mouth taped shut. He had also been suffocated.
Keator was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a state district judge after she pled guilty.
“The elderly and disabled people in our community are extremely vulnerable to becoming victims of violence,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “This couple took advantage of this man’s kindness and deserves to spend decades in prison.”
Fernandez, who was known throughout the apartment complex as a gentle, grandfatherly type, did not have family in the area and needed assistance with daily living activities.
Keator agreed to provide that help in exchange for a place to live and had moved into Fernandez’s Baytown apartment more than a month before the murder, prosecutors said. Instead of helping, she allowed her boyfriend to routinely visit, culminating in the planned robbery and killing of Fernandez on Christmas Day 2017.
After concerned neighbors alerted apartment management that Fernandez had not been heard from for several days, maintenance workers found his body locked inside his bedroom.
Keator and Gilbert were arrested by the Baytown Police Department and charged with capital murder for suffocating Fernandez and taking his television, ATM card and cellphone.
Gilbert, 41, pleaded guilty to murder earlier this year in exchange for 60 years in prison. Keator pleaded guilty without a plea agreement, opting instead to be sentenced by the judge after a punishment hearing.
During the hearing Thursday, the judge learned that prior to the plea, Keator had provided critical evidence against her co-defendant and had agreed to testify against him, even without promise of leniency.
The judge noted that if Keator had not fully cooperated, she would have been sentenced to a much longer prison term.
Gilbert and Keator must serve at least half of their prison sentences before becoming eligible for parole.