A man who assisted a friend in trying to conceal the alleged murder of a 71-year-old Murrieta woman was sentenced today to nine months in jail and five years probation.
Neil Michael Erickson, 18, of Wildomar was arrested July 15 in connection with the vanishing of Catherine Sutton, grandmother to the defendant's friend, 21-year-old Kyle Roger McLean, who is charged with murder.
Erickson pleaded guilty in July to being an accessory to a felony. He made his plea directly to Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mark Mandio, without negotiation between the defense and prosecution.
The defendant also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor vandalism, stemming from a spray-painting incident that happened on July 11. Mandio sentenced him to 108 days in jail for that crime, but the time was folded into the nine-month jail term.
Meantime, McLean remains held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta. He is slated to appear for a felony settlement conference at the Murrieta courthouse a week from today.
"The decision to arrest the suspects was based on our interviews with them, the scene of the crime and evidence located at the scene," Murrieta police Lt. Tony Conrad told City News Service in July.
The circumstances behind Sutton's death have not been disclosed. But investigators allege McLean put her body in the trunk of his vehicle and drove to an unknown location, where he likely burned the remains, which have not been located.
McLean stayed at his grandmother's residence when he pleased, according to published reports.
Among the items allegedly seized in his bedroom was an undisclosed quantity of methamphetamine.
According to the District Attorney's Office, Sutton's daughter contacted Murrieta police on the night of July 14 to report her mom missing from her two-story house at 27618 Graystone Lane, located at the end of a cul de sac that backs up to Interstate 215.
Officers searched the property but could not locate Sutton. Conditions inside the home, which Conrad declined to describe, immediately led to suspicions of foul play.
"She didn't just wander away," the lieutenant said.
Both defendants were questioned at length before detectives decided to place them under arrest, Conrad said.
According to court records, McLean was arrested on June 24 for allegedly being in possession of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia. He was free on bond at the time of his arrest for murder. --City News Service