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Two Plead In Salina Murder Case

Todd Pittenger - April 18, 2014 1:04 pm

In exchange for a recommendation of life in prison with a  25 year minimum,  Joel pled guilty to 1st Degree murder and testified against Dane DeWeese during the trial.
(file photo by Tom Dorsey / Salina Journal)

In exchange for a recommendation of life in prison with a 25 year minimum, Joel pled guilty to 1st Degree murder and testified against Dane DeWeese during the trial. (file photo by Tom Dorsey / Salina Journal)

Two people avoid going to trial by pleading to their involvement in a Salina murder.

Friday morning in Saline County District Court, 25-year-old Joel Heil plead guilty to first degree murder and attempted robbery charges, while 21-year-old Megan Wells plead no contest to a charge of obstruction.

Last week, 33-year-old Dane DeWeese was found guilty of first degree murder at the conclusion of a trail that lasted nearly three weeks.

All three were charged in connection with the murder of 27-year-old Kristin Tyler of Salina last spring.

Heil testified against DeWeese during the trial, and at that time he indicated that he would plead guilty to 1st degree murder in the case. He did just that Friday morning.

Heil Friday morning said that he was pleading guilty to the murder, and that he had testified truthfully against DeWeese. For the murder charge, he could face a maximum life sentence, without the possibility of parole until a minimum of 25 years had been served. As part of the plea agreement, the state dropped a conspiracy charge that Heil was facing.

Wells avoided trial by pleading to a lesser charge. She was initially charged with conspiracy. Instead, Friday morning she plead no contest to a charge of obstructing the apprehension or prosecution of a felon. Wells, who is the mother of one of DeWeese’s children, could face a maximum penalty of 7 – 23 months in prison. The state is recommending probation, though.

Wells has been in the Saline County Jail, but her bond was reduced to $1,500 Friday. District Judge Jared Johnson cautioned her that if she bonded out, and then used illegal drugs while out of jail, it would not “bode well for her” during sentencing. During the trial, a key component in the case was illegal drug use.

A sentencing date for both Heil and Wells was scheduled for June 17th.

The case revolves around the disappearance and murder of Kristin Tyler. She disappeared on April 25th of last year. Her body was discovered on May 9th, just west of Salina on Stimmel Road below Interstate 135. Numerous law enforcement officers had been searching the area, and a sheriff deputy on patrol made the discovery.

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