Teen accused of killing his half-sister pleads guilty; avoids life sentence

Posted at 12:35 PM, Oct 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-02 12:35:18-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP/FOX 17) — A plea agreement is expected to allow a teenager to avoid a no-parole sentence in the strangulation death of his 18-year-old half-sister in western Michigan.

Seventeen-year-old Savon Schmus pleaded guilty Monday to a murder charge and prosecutors will recommend a minimum sentence of 30-40 years. He’d earlier been charged as an adult with open murder and faced life in prison without parole. Sentencing is Oct. 30.

McKenna Hilton

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker says the decision was based on U.S. Supreme Court decisions about mandatory no-parole sentences for juveniles.

A person walking a dog found McKenna Hilton’s body Aug. 18, 2016, in a wooded area near Emerald Lake in Grand Rapids Township.

Schmus and Hilton shared the same father.  Becker said in a press release that Mr. Schmus did not want to see Savon sentenced to live without parole. McKenna’s mother and relatives objected to the offer, according to Becker, but was made because of the Supreme Court ruling.

Police believe Hilton was strangled by the then-16-year-old Schmus in their father’s apartment.