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McQueen was sentenced to 50 years

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More than seven months after Tyler R. McQueen was found guilty of first-degree murder in the March 24, 2012, slaying of Robert V. Westall, he has been sentenced to prison.

On December 21, 2013, Judge Robert Hopkins handed down a sentence that will keep McQueen in prison for fifty years. He will not be eligible for parole and will serve all fifty years with three years parole after prison. He will be 72 years old before he gets out of prison.

His attorney, Matthew Vaughn, asked for the minimum of twenty years for McQueen. Lawrence County State's Attorney Chris Quick said the sentence could have been more severe. "He could have gotten up to natural life, and we did ask for 78 years, which is how old Mr. Westall was when he was murdered, but we understand that the judge takes into consideration both aggravating and mitigating factors, so that was the number that Judge Hopkins came up with and we think that's fair."

The hearing last around three and a half hours with four victim impact statements being read.

Karen Westall, Robert Westall's widow, and the couple's three children, Charles, Spencer, and Veronica Westall, read statements to the court regarding how Robert's death effected their lives.

"I will never understand how you can viciously murder someone you did not know," Karen told McQueen. "I hope your life ends the same way Bob's did, in a prison cell while you are asleep."

A letter from Charles Westall, a U.S. Marine currently stationed in Japan, was read by prosecutor Michael Vujovich. He recounted finding out about his father's death while in the middle of a deployment in Afghanistan.

Spencer Westall said his father hadn't deserved to die and noted that he'll never feel safe in his own home again. He also said his son, Jonathan, will never know his grandfather.

Veronica Westall gave the last impact statement, saying she cried every day for more than a year, and that she never had a chance to say her last good-byes. She and Spencer said they wanted McQueen to receive the maximum sentence.

For the defense, Vaughn called Karen McQueen, Tyler's mother, as well as his brother, Ethan McQueen, to the stand. A family friend, Walter Gerber, and Dr. Daniel J Cuneo, a psychologist, were also called.

Karen McQueen talked about some of the difficulties of raising Tyler. Her husband, Nick, was a recovering alcoholic who started to drink again when Tyler was 16. Much of her testimony, though, focused on the impact the death of her oldest son, Sean, had on Tyler. Sean was killed in a motorcycle accident on May 19, 2011.

Ethan McQueen said he believed Tyler had taken Sean's death the hardest, because growing up, Sean was his idol. Walter Gerber described McQueen a typical, happy kid when he was young, but he changed after Sean's death, becoming withdrawn and depressed.

Dr. Cuneo said he had evaluated McQueen for two and a half hours on August 16, as well as reviewing the DVD of a police interview and other documents and mental health evaluations. A December 2011 Deaconess hospital report indicated McQueen had attempted suicide three times. Each attempt was drug and alcohol related. Cuneo said the mental health diagnosis on McQueen is that he is bi-polar with a history of extreme mood swings.

Following final statements from both attorneys, Vujovich and Vaughn, Judge Hopkins described all the factors he was taking into consideration, such as the planned nature of the offense and that another person helped facilitate the crime. Then he handed down his sentence.

It is likely that McQueen will be transferred to a maximum security prison, possibly in northern Illinois, unless Judge Hopkins grants Vaughn's motion for a new trial and to vacate the jury's verdict.

Source: Larenceville Daily Record

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