A Lexington man was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for killing a 70-year-old woman in August at a Somerset church, according to media reports.
Dwight Mitchell Bell, 41, avoided a potential death sentence earlier this week when he pleaded guilty to murder and first-degree robbery in the killing of Ruthie Carolyn New.
Pulaski Circuit Judge David Tapp accepted the plea deal recommendation Thursday afternoon and sentenced Bell to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
New’s family agreed to Bell’s plea and sentence, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Eddy Montgomery.
According to LEX 18’s Michael Berk, Tapp called Bell a thief for stealing a life and stealing innocence from the community.
New’s family attended the sentencing. Her son Jonathan said that Saturday would have been her birthday, according to Berk.
New’s body was found Aug. 24 at Denham Street Baptist Church, where her late husband, J.S. New, had been the pastor.
Bell took New’s purse, cellphone and car, and fled. Somerset police called Bell a person of interest soon after the slaying, and he was tracked to Eastern Kentucky, where he was arrested nearly three weeks later.
Bell said in court Monday that he has had emotional and mental problems, and that he killed New in a psychotic rage, according to Montgomery.