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Root sentenced to life in prison for 2007 murder of Janna Kelly

Posted at 2:30 PM, Dec 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-09 14:30:40-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. --The woman at the center of a high-profile murder case heard her punishment in court Wednesday. Robin Root stood shaking and crying in a Kent County courtroom as her sentence was handed down.

Wednesday afternoon, Robin Root was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2007 murder of Janna Kelly.

Root was convicted of first-degree murder Nov. 6 after being arrested earlier this year in connection with the cold case.

Both Kelly's brother and niece spoke in court about what their family has faced since that day in 2007.

"My family has the biggest heart,  but we still struggle to forgive you. I hope there will be a time when you give Janna the truth of what really did happen and peace, you owe her that,"  said Kelly's niece, Jennifer Stanton. "You degraded my aunt, tortured her remains. We couldn't even have an open casket because you set her on fire and left her to the animals and elements."

Kelly, 60, disappeared from her Grand Rapids home Dec. 4, 2007.  Her body was found March 13, 2008, in Grand Haven Township, according to Ottawa County officials.

DNA evidence collected in 2007 implicated her, but Grand Rapids Police didn't submit the evidence to the state crime lab.

Ottawa County detectives found the evidence in 2014 and filed the charges against Root.

She later confessed to the murder, saying she pushed Kelly during an argument, knocked her unconscious, and put her in the trunk of her car.

"She [Kelly] missed her own daughter's wedding, many births and so much more," Stanton said to Root. "Your family can still see you, hear your voice. We can't do that because of your actions."