A man admitted Tuesday to robbing a Rapid City convenience store clerk shortly before the woman was stabbed to death by his companion.
Cody Grady, 20, of Rapid City pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery at a hearing that was initially set to discuss his upcoming trial.
He had been charged with alternative counts of first-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter in the January 2017 fatal stabbing of Kasie Lord, a 45-year-old clerk at the Loaf 'N Jug on Mount Rushmore Road.
Grady was also facing alternative counts of grand theft and aiding and abetting first-degree robbery for a beer theft that police said preceded Lord’s killing. Investigators said he took a case, or 24 cans, of Budweiser beer.
At the Pennington County Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon, Grady admitted stealing beer, but said he wasn't involved in Lord's stabbing.
He went to the Loaf ‘N Jug “with the intent to steal some beer,” Grady told 7th Circuit Judge Heidi Linngren when asked for details of his offense. Grady said he got into a “tug of war” with Lord over the case, prevailed and left the store.
This happened before Lord was stabbed, and he didn’t see the attack, Grady told the court.
His companion on that Jan. 18 early morning walk to the store, 17-year-old Carlos Quevedo, pleaded guilty in November to second-degree murder. Authorities earlier said Lord had been stabbed at least 38 times and collapsed at the store’s parking lot. Police said the robbery and stabbing were captured on the store’s surveillance video.
Quevedo, now 18, said he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at that time and had blacked out during the attack. He is scheduled to be sentenced Monday.
Grady is expected to receive a 7-1/2 year prison sentence under his plea deal with the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office – which received the judge’s agreement. Second-degree robbery carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Grady will also be given credit for the time he has served in county jail, and his other charges will be dismissed at sentencing.
Lord’s family also agreed to the plea deal, Deputy State’s Attorney Sarah Morrison said in response to a question from Linngren.
Grady is scheduled for sentencing March 21. He will be eligible for parole after serving 40 percent of his sentence, defense attorney Tim Rensch said in an interview after Tuesday’s hearing.
Rensch said the defense and prosecution’s decision to enter into the plea deal was the result of his client’s approaching trial, scheduled to run for two weeks starting Feb. 20.
“There’s nothing like the clarity of mind that you achieve from a trial that’s very close,” Rensch said.