A Blue Springs woman will spend 18 years in prison for the murder of an elderly rural Jackson County man in late 2016.
Mary Couts, 34, was sentenced last week by Circuit Judge Marco Roldan after pleading guilty in May, right before a scheduled trial, to second-degree murder in the death of 84-year-old John Rector.
Couts also pleaded resisting arrest from a police chase that took place a few days after she and a teenager burglarized Rector's house. Roldan also sentenced her to four years concurrently for that. She faced up to 22 years in prison.
Couts' accomplice, John Lane, 20, pleaded guilty last October to second-degree murder, plus three other charges from other cases and received a 15-year concurrent sentence.
Couts and Lane had each been charged with second-degree murder, armed criminal action and burglary for the November 2016 attack in rural southeastern Jackson County. Rector was found bleeding and unconscious from a beating and never regained consciousness.
According to court records, a friend found Rector on Nov. 27, 2016, in the backyard of his home, bleeding and suffering from trauma to the back of his head. The friend reported Rector's house had been ransacked and that a 60-inch television and a briefcase containing financial documents were missing.
Investigators used reports and surveillance footage from a bank and cell phone images from another burglary victim to eventually tie the crimes to Lane and Couts. Lane was in custody of the Johnson County Sheriff's Office on charges out of Raytown at the time, and Couts was in the Jackson County jail from the police chase that followed an attempted pullover by police in Kansas City.
Lane and Couts both told investigators that the other person had knocked down Rector from behind and beaten him with a plumber's wrench. Lane claimed he tried to stop Couts after she started to hit Rector and wanted to call for an ambulance, but Couts took his cellphone and threw it out the window.