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Helen Westall sentenced to 30 years

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Two years and one day after the murder of Robert Westall, his niece was sentenced to prison for her involvement with his death.

On March 25, 2014, in Lawrence County Circuit Court, Helen Marie Westall was sentenced to 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. She was charged with solicitation of murder and solicitation of murder for hire in her uncle's death. Westall offered Tyler McQueen $10,000 and a 1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass in exchange for killing Robert Westall.

McQueen was sentenced to 50 years in prison after being found guilty of first degree murder. He is currently serving his sentence in Menard Correctional Center.

A few days before Westall's trial was set to begin in January, a plea agreement was reached. In return for Westall pleading guilty to the charge of solicitation of murder for hire, the prosecution agreed to a sentencing hearing and a cap of 30 years.

During the hearing, Karen Westall, Robert Westall's widow, said the crime was all about money, calling Helen Westall's role in the murder an "evil act of greed." She also talked about how Robert's death has changed her life. "You took a life and yours should be taken as well."

Spencer Westall, one of Robert's children, told the court about the emotional pain he suffered. He was taking basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., when the Red Cross delivered the message that his father had died. He said that whatever the sentence, "it will never be enough."

Robert's other son, Charles, is stationed overseas and could not be at the hearing. He had written a letter to the court prior to McQueen's sentencing. The prosecution said the letter was still pertinent, so it was entered into court records. Veronica, Robert's daughter, read a letter during McQueen's sentencing, but she was finding it too emotionally difficult to prepare a statement this time. Her letter from the other hearing was also allowed into court records.

Helen Westall did not take the stand, even after Judge Hopkins made it clear that it was her right to testify. She also chose not to make a statement of allocution. Her attorney, Brad Vaughn, asked the court to consider all the sentencing ranges (from 20 to 30 years) and take into consideration that Westall had no history of delinquency prior to the murder.

It didn't take long for Judge Hopkins to hand down the sentence. Westall showed no emotion as she was given 30 years in prison.

She must serve 85 percent of the sentence, which is 25.5 years. She will get credit for time served, which is two years.

"We're very happy with it. That was the maximum possible penalty that she could have gotten. We think the judge made a very good decision," said Lawrence County State's Attorney Chris Quick.

Source: Lawrenceville Daily Record

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