Two murderers are sentenced to life imprisonment for murder of veteran Air Force

Two convicted murderers who were teenagers when they killed a veteran of the air force after chaining him to a tree and torturing him for 10 hours, were again convicted of being adults for prison life

  • Cordell Richards, 31, was murdered in March 1999 in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
  • The veteran of the air force was burned and found chained to a tree after being tortured for 10 hours
  • Ronald Bell and then-girlfriend Kristel Maestas, who were 17 and 16 years old at the time, were imprisoned for his kidnapping and murder
  • The couple, now in their thirties, were sentenced to life imprisonment on Monday after a lengthy legal battle
  • They were eligible for reconsideration after the Florida Supreme Court ruled in March 2015 that young people could not be sentenced to life without conditional release

Two convicted murderers who were teenagers when they killed an Air Force veteran after torturing him for 10 hours by tying him to a tree, beating him with a club and setting him on fire were again convicted of being adults for life in prison.

The heavily decomposed body of 31-year-old Cordell Richards was burned in March 1999 and tied to a tree in a remote area near Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Ronald Bell and his then girlfriend Kristel Maestas, who were 17 and 16 years old at the time, have both been in prison since they kidnapped and brutally murdered the Air Force veteran.

But the couple, now in their thirties, were sentenced to life imprisonment on Monday after a lengthy legal battle over whether they would receive less jail because they were just teenagers at the time of the murder.

Kristel Maestas

Ronald Bell

Ronald Bell

Ronald Bell and Kristel Maestas, who were 17 and 16 years old during the murder of Cordell Richards in 1999, were again sentenced to life imprisonment in Florida on Monday. The couple had been eligible for re-use after the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that young people could not be sentenced to life without parole

They had been eligible for re-use after the Florida Supreme Court ruled in March 2015 that because of their age, young people could not be sentenced to live without conditional release.

Bell was initially sentenced to death during the murder of Richards, but was later brought back to life without conditional release in 2003, since he was not yet 18 when he committed the crime.

A judge on Monday had to reassess the evidence, their age, and the factors in each of their cases before being convicted again.

He was emotionless when he was sentenced again on Monday to life in prison for first-degree murder and a consecutive life sentence for kidnapping, reports the Florida Daily News.

Maestas cried when she was again sentenced to life imprisonment and a consecutive 30-year prison sentence for abduction.

Bell, Maestas and another of their friends – then 16-year-old Renee Lincks – attacked the victim with a blunt object in his house before kidnapping him and taking him to a remote area.

What followed was two days of brutal torture.

The heavily decomposed body of 31-year-old Cordell Richards was burned in March 1999 and tied to a tree in a remote area near Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

The heavily decomposed body of 31-year-old Cordell Richards was burned in March 1999 and tied to a tree in a remote area near Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

The heavily decomposed body of 31-year-old Cordell Richards was burned in March 1999 and tied to a tree in a remote area near Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Cordell Richard's mother, Ruby Richards, and Cordell & # 39; s daughter Reanna Richards embrace the court on Monday after the two murderers have been put in prison for life

Cordell Richard's mother, Ruby Richards, and Cordell & # 39; s daughter Reanna Richards embrace the court on Monday after the two murderers have been put in prison for life

Cordell Richard's mother, Ruby Richards, and Cordell & # 39; s daughter Reanna Richards embrace the court on Monday after the two murderers have been put in prison for life

The high school students chained Richards to a tree, hit him with a baseball bat and set him on fire while he was alive.

The trio let him die before he returned the next day to keep him alive.

They bought a meat knife from a nearby supermarket and then cut his throat. Authorities said they then returned the weapon to Target to get a refund.

Lincks eventually argued for no plea for manslaughter and false imprisonment in exchange for her testimony against the other two. She was released from prison in 2012.

Just before the reconfirmation on Monday, a relative of the victim wrote a long post on Facebook and urged the judge to put Bell and Maestas away for life.

& # 39; There are & # 39; & # 39; experts who make us believe that a person is unable to make concrete decisions before the age of 25. Still, let them vote, buy cigarettes and alcohol, join the army, buy guns, get married and have children, & said Rhonda Powell Walker, who had a daughter with the victim.

& # 39; When these people chose to torture and kill Cordell Richards, they made a choice. They got a lawsuit and were found guilty and convicted. That should have been the end. They were both sentenced to life imprisonment without conditional release.

& # 39; When they killed a man, THEY GO US … his family a LIFE judgment. Our sense will NEVER be reduced. He will never come back to visit his daughter, his parents or his brother. Why should they suffer a lower sentence than the family they have damaged for life?

& # 39; I pray for Cordell Richards and his family to be served. & # 39;

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