GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Nearly 11 years after the murder of a Grand Rapids businesswoman, her killer has learned her punishment.
Kent County Judge Joe Rossi Wednesday sentenced Robin Root to 25 to 50 years in prison for the December 2007 murder of her landlord, Janna Kelly.
Kelly disappeared on Dec. 4, 2007. Her burned body was found in an Ottawa County blueberry field in March 2008.
In a taped interview on April 22, 2015, Root told officers she pushed Kelly during an argument over back rent. Root said Kelly, who was her landlady, was knocked unconscious.
Root told police she loaded Kelly into the trunk of her car and left her there overnight. Root said when she returned the next day, Kelly was dead.
Police said Root then dumped Kelly’s body in the blueberry field and set it on fire.
Root never apologized to Kelly’s family when she addressed the court. She talked about how people can learn from their mistakes and go on to do something positive. She also said she believes God has a plan for her.
Kelly’s daughter and brother also spoke before Root’s sentence was handed down.
Her daughter, Dana Isola, pointed out how during the months Kelly’s family spent searching for her, Root was living just feet away, watching their pain and withholding her story.
Isola also talked about how she no longer gets to see, touch or talk to her mother, but Root’s family will, even after her prison term begins.
Kelly’s brother, Wyatt Neil, described the pain her murder caused the family. He said Kelly was scared of the dark, so when Root locked her in the trunk of a car, it must have been particularly horrible for her.
The prosecutor picked apart Root’s written statement to the court, particularly when she called Kelly’s murder the most traumatic event in her life, and how she questioned why God put her in that position.
While handing down the sentence, Rossi bemoaned the murder over $2,900. He said Root was only sorry she was caught.
>>App users: Watch Root’s sentencing here.
A jury last month found Root guilty of second-degree murder after hearing testimony from a neighbor and friend who said he witnessed a volitale argument between Root and Kelly shortly before Kelly’s disappearance.
This was the second time the case has gone to trial. Root was previously sentenced to life in prison without parole for the crime, but a state appeals court threw out her first-degree murder conviction, saying her statements to detectives were inadmissible at trial because police didn’t read Root her Miranda Rights before she confessed.
DNA evidence that went untested for years led police to Root in July 2014.