Judge gives Michelle Knotek more time than she bargained forSOUTH BEND, Wash. - Michelle Knotek was sentenced Thursday to more than 22 years in prison for her role in the deaths of Kathy Loreno and Ronald Woodworth, boarders in her Raymond home.
Knotek and her husband, David, were arrested last summer when human remains were found on their property. After Pacific County prosecutors decided they could not make first-degree murder charges stick, they charged Michelle Knotek, 50, with second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Reports were that Knotek - known behind her back by some in the community as "Crazy Shellie" - abused or even tortured the boarders.
In June, she entered an Alford plea to the charges, and reached an agreement with prosecutors that would have sent her to prison for 17 years. In her plea, she did not admit her guilt, but acknowledged that a jury would likely find her guilty.
Judge Mark McCauley sentenced her to a term longer than that agreement - 13 years and eight months on the murder charge and eight years and five months on the manslaughter charge.
David Knotek had earlier pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his nephew, Shane Watson. He is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday.
The couple was arrested Aug. 8, 2003 at their Monohon Landing Road residence and jailed after a number of local witnesses began coming to sheriff's deputies with information about the physical and mental abuse of two men and a woman who had lived with the Knoteks.
Witnesses told deputies of physical and emotional abuse of at least three people. Details emerged of how the bodies had been burned or buried.
Loreno was reported missing by her mother, Kay Thomas, in 1994. But Michelle Knotek initially told Pacific County deputies Loreno had moved to California with a boyfriend.
Another report said Michelle Knotek
had been making 57-year-old Woodworth do chores outside in just his underwear and had made him jump off things onto gravel, causing serious injuries to his feet, according to a court affidavit.
The witnesses also provided information about Watson, who had been missing since around the time of the Loreno's death. One affidavit reported that Watson was shot in the neck. Another report suggested he may have been killed because he took photos of the abusive injuries to the other two boarders.
The case attracted significant media interest in a small community.
"I've known David forever," former Raymond Mayor Leon Lead told the Associated Press. "He applied for a garbage truck driving job when I was mayor.
"He was the last guy I would think of for something like this - kind of a 'regular Joe.'"