The stabbing happened sometime after he had taken over-the-counter drugs, smoked marijuana and drunk vodka. He couldn’t remember attacking the woman but had no doubt he killed her. He was 17.
Between intervals of clearing his throat, Carlos Quevedo, now 18, told the court Tuesday what he remembered of the day leading up to the Jan. 18 death of Kasie Lord, a clerk at the Loaf ‘N Jug on Mount Rushmore Road. Quevedo, accused of killing the 45-year-old woman, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
The crime carries a sentence of mandatory life in prison without parole, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the penalty cannot be applied to juveniles.
“I’m prohibited from imposing that sentence,” 7th Circuit Court Judge Heidi Linngren told Quevedo at the Pennington County hearing. But, she added, “I can give you a term of years, in the hundreds of years … as long as it’s not a life sentence that doesn’t give you the opportunity of parole.”
Quevedo’s statement of the facts surrounding Lord’s death started with Jan. 17, when he got rehired by McDonald’s. To celebrate the job, Quevedo and his friends decided to get high on over-the-counter medication, his lawyer Randy Connelly said in an interview after the hearing.
In a statement that lasted around seven minutes, Quevedo told the court the events that happened next:
His girlfriend bought two boxes of Coricidin, a cough and cold medicine, and he took 16 tablets.
He got together with more friends, including 19-year-old Cody Grady, who would also be charged in Lord’s murder. At Quevedo’s home on the south side of Rapid City, the group smoked marijuana and passed around some goods stolen from a local Safeway grocery store: a liter of Sprite spiked with the cough syrup Robitussin.
Sometime later, the guys walked to a convenience store while drinking a bottle of vodka provided by Grady. They decided to do a “dash and grab,” or steal, from the store.
When only Quevedo and Grady were left together, Grady began rummaging inside unlocked vehicles they came across. From the console of one, Grady pulled out a “green, metallic” knife. Fearing Grady might hurt himself with it in their intoxicated state, Quevedo asked for the knife and put it in his pocket.
Halfway to the Loaf ‘N Jug, where Lord was working that early morning of Jan. 18, Quevedo blacked out. “I don’t remember anything happening at the Loaf ‘N Jug,” he told the court.
From a review of the store’s security video, police say one man entered the convenience store and tried to take off with a case of unpaid beer. Lord grabs the beer, calls 911 and blocks the door when she sees him grab another case. He pushes past her, and they struggle for the beer.
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Another man walks up behind Lord and appears to stab her in the back several times. When Lord turns around, the man makes more stabbing motions.
Quevedo said that when he “came to,” he was inside a bathroom at Grady’s central Rapid City home, a dog licking his hand. Quevedo saw blood on his hand and clothes. “I didn’t know where it was from … I didn’t know what to do,” he said.
Another friend at the residence reportedly asked Quevedo to take off his sweater, hid it in the ceiling and gave him something else to wear.
When Quevedo stopped speaking, Judge Linngren asked if he had any doubts he killed Lord since he couldn’t remember the incident. No, he replied.
The court was told his attorney reviewed the security video, as well as an audio recording of the incident, which supported the murder allegation. Quevedo apparently had refused to take a look at the evidence.
“He wants to accept the full consequences of his actions,” Connelly said, adding that he spoke with Quevedo about the meaning of the guilty murder plea “half a dozen times.”
Quevedo was entitled to a hearing that would determine if his case could be transferred to juvenile court, but he waived it and decided to be tried as an adult.
His original charges of first-degree murder and first-degree robbery will be dismissed in accordance with his plea agreement with Pennington County prosecutors. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 12.
Grady, meanwhile, is preparing for a two-week trial beginning Feb. 20.
He is facing twin alternative charges of first-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, as well as aiding and abetting first-degree robbery and grand theft. He can be convicted on only one of his alternative charges. Murder, his most serious charge, is punishable by death or mandatory life in prison.
Grady also appeared before Linngren on Tuesday, about half an hour before Quevedo did. Both are detained at the county jail without bond.
Nov. 15, 2017, correction: The person who reportedly told Quevedo to take off his sweater and hid it was misstated in the original report; it was another friend at Grady's home.