Facing death penalty, man pleads guilty in Sterling slaying of his grandparents



Brendan Lee Johnson

Brendan Lee Johnson (Provided by the Sterling Police Department)

A man who, along with his girlfriend, was facing the death penalty in the 2014 Sterling slaying of his grandparents pleaded guilty Thursday, court records show.

In Logan County court, Brendan Johnson, 20, entered the plea to one count of first-degree murder. Records show that all other charges he had faced were dismissed. On April 27, he will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Authorities say the young couple's plot revolved around an attempt to inherit Shirley and Charles Severance's house and $20,000 that was in their checking account. The Severances, both 70, had lived in Sterling for more than 30 years.

Johnson initially pleaded not guilty to 14 counts in the slayings.

His girlfriend, 19-year-old Cassandra Ann Rieb, pleaded not guilty during her arraignment Thursday, hours after Johnson entered his guilty plea, according to The Associated Press.

Prosecutors say Rieb still could face the death penalty. Records show a trial for her is scheduled to begin in late September.

Rieb and Johnson were arrested in early June.

The Sterling Journal-Advocate contributed to this report.




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