Teen sentenced for murdering half-sister

Posted at 7:18 PM, Oct 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-30 19:23:05-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A teen has been sentenced to at least 40 years behind bars for the murder of his half-sister.

Savon Schmus pleaded guilty earlier this month, avoiding a life sentence in the death of 18-year-old McKenna Hilton.  He'd earlier been charged as an adult with open murder and faced life in prison without parole

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

Investigators say Schmus, who was 16 at the time, strangled Hilton in their father's apartment.  Her body was found in the woods near Emerald Lake in August 2016.

“To Savon, I hate you, I will never forgive you. McKenna did nothing to you to deserve what you did to her. McKenna considered you to be your brother,"  McKenna's mother Stacey Hilton said in court Monday. “I hope when you go to prison, you get exactly what you deserve.  I hope that when you come out of prison, I hope it’s not on your two feet, I hope it’s in a body bag.”

McKenna's family says they're hurt, angry and that the pain of Schmus' crimes can never go away.

"There's really nothing to say to Savon," Hilton said. "As much as they say that he's remorseful, he's not. I've dealt with him enough to know he's not.  So there's nothing more to say to him, that's over and I just hope people remember McKenna and do good for her, because she would have done wonderful things and we want to honor her.  And we want to continue to honor her and make sure her memory stays alive."

McKenna's family is currently in the process of setting up a memorial scholarship fund in her name for students at Kentwood High School who are having a positive impact on others.

The Associated Press contributed to this report