STURGIS, S.D. (AP) – As expected, a change-of-plea hearing yesterday saw a Sturgis teen plead guilty to reduced charges in the killing of a teenage Wyoming girl last October in his home.
17-year old Michael Campbell originally pleaded Not Guilty and Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity to alternate counts of 1st-and- 2nd-degree murder in the death of 16-year old Shayna Ritthaler of Moorcroft, but yesterday pleaded guilty to 1st-degree manslaughter.
In exchange for Campbell’s plea, both sides agreed to ask the judge for a 55-year sentence, although the judge does not have to accept the recommendation. Sentencing is set for July.
Ritthaler was reported missing last October 3, but with Moorcroft police believing she’d left voluntarily with a young South Dakota man. Her body was found 11 days later in the basement of the home Campbell shared with his mother.
At yesterday’s hearing, he called Ritthaler his girlfriend and said he shot her in the head after they’d gotten into an argument. The prosecutor told the Rapid City Journal that the two had been chatting online but met in person for the first time on the day she died.