An Erie woman accused of fatally attacking and crushing her boyfriend with her body at the couple’s east Erie residence in March pleaded guilty to third-degree murder Monday.
Windi C. Thomas, 44, agreed to a recommended sentence of 18 to 36 years in state prison as part of her plea agreement with prosecutors. Her sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 21.
Erie County Judge William R. Cunningham accepted the plea shortly before 9 a.m. Assistant Erie County District Attorney Jeremy Lightner dropped charges of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and possession of the instrument of a crime in exchange for Thomas’ plea in the death of her boyfriend, 44-year-old Keeno Butler.
The recommended sentence of 18 to 36 years would cut two to four years from the maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years for third-degree murder, an unpremeditated killing with malice. Thomas had been scheduled to face trial in the case beginning Dec. 10.
“It’s a good result based upon the facts of the case,” said Thomas’ court-appointed lawyer, Mark Del Duca, of Pittsburgh. “I think it’s fair for both sides.”
Sandra Butler, the victim’s sister, said she wanted to see Thomas serve more time than the agreed-upon sentence.
“I feel like she should have 40 or more,” Butler said. “She deserved life.”
Erie police investigators charged that Thomas killed Butler during a March 18 attack at the couple’s apartment at 1019 East Ave. Thomas told investigators that she cut Butler in the hand with a folding knife struck him in the head with a table leg during a confrontation.
Thomas also said she placed her head on the couch so a portion of her body would be on Butler’s head, police said. Investigators wrote in the affidavit of probable cause that Thomas weighs approximately 300 pounds and Butler weighed approximately 120 pounds.
Butler’s death was ruled a homicide “caused by respiratory insufficiency secondary to blunt force trauma to the neck and thoracic compression, exacerbated by blunt force trauma to the head,” according to the affidavit.
Police said Butler’s body was found on the living room floor at the residence after Thomas called 911 and reported she had killed an individual.
Thomas will remain in the Erie County Prison without bond while she awaits sentencing.
Sandra Butler said her family is still struggling to cope with her brother’s death.
“My mother, she calls for him every night,” Butler said.
"It was very, very hard to keep quiet. It was an awful killing." — Keeno Butler's sister, Sandra Jean Butler, commenting after Windi Thomas' preliminary hearing. pic.twitter.com/5hTwiGfKfn
— Jackie Roberts (@JackieRoberts22) June 6, 2018
Madeleine O’Neill can be reached at 870-1728 or by email. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ETNoneill.
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