NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - In the wake of a decision by the Texas Court of Appeals in December 2014, the state agreed to a new sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole for the Nacogdoches man involved in a murder-for-hire plot that resulted in the death of his then-girlfriend's stepfather in 2005.
Colton Weir, 25, appeared in Judge Edwin Klein's 420th Judicial District Court Thursday. He was only given two options - life with the possibility of parole and life without the possibility of parole.
The new sentence did not alter the initial finding of guilt, and Klein accepted the plea.
Nacogdoches County District Attorney Nicole Lestracco said the US Supreme Court recently decided that it was unconstitutional for people who juveniles at the time when they committed the offenses to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole without having a hearing first.
Last December, the Texas Court of Appeals ruled that the sentences for Weir and Shaina Selpulvado, 25, were unconstitutional and ordered the Nacogdoches County court to re-assess the sentences.
John Heath, Sepulvado's defense attorney, said in a previous East Texas News story that it was a murder-for-hire plot.
“Marcia Kelly, Shaina's mother, basically conned Shaina into gathering up a group to murder James Kelly,” Heath said.
He said Sepulvado recruited Weir and her boyfriend, Dallas Christian.
“Colton was the shooter, and Christian drove the getaway car,” Heath said.
The court alleged the juveniles' sentences of life without parole violated the Eighth Amendment under Miller v. Alabama, as they were juveniles at the time of the crime. The Miller case was not brought before the Supreme Court until after Weir and Sepulvado were sentenced. At the time, life without parole was the only punishment which could be given to juveniles convicted of capital murder.
As a result, the 420th Court was required to assess their sentences at life with the possibility of parole or life without parole after consideration of their conduct, circumstances and character.
Weir and Sepulvado were two of four people convicted in connection to the murder of Sepulvado's stepfather. Previous reports state Weir shot Kelly while he was sleeping. He was to be paid $10,000 and a pickup.
While Sepulvado's mother, Marcia Kelly, maintained her innocence, it was discovered she had a $100,000 insurance policy on him.
Former Nacogdoches County District Attorney Stephanie Stephens said Sepulvado's motive was not greed.
“Her mother allowed her to do whatever she wanted while her step-father was the disciplinarian,” said Stephens. “Sepulvado's motive was to get rid of him.”
Kelly is serving a sentence of life without parole. A fourth person, Dallas Christian, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of first-degree murder and is serving a 40-year prison sentence.