Lester Van Waters, 50, has received 100 years in prison for the 2012 murder of Sherry Arnold. The popular Montana high school teacher was kidnapped and then murdered by Michael Spell, 25, and Waters.
According to KPax news, Waters had ordered Michael Spell to kidnap the mother of two so Spell could engage in sexual activity. Authorities claim that Spell choked Arnold during the abduction, which lead to her death.
— Billings Gazette (@billingsgazette) May 20, 2014
It’s believed that Spell is also mentally disabled and doesn’t know how to read or write. According to the Huffington Post, his attorney said, “He’s going to be intellectually disabled until the day he dies, but that doesn’t mean he can’t learn and he can’t learn life skills.”
Judge Richard Simonton doesn’t believe that Waters hands were ever on Sherry Arnold but since he told Spell to abduct Arnold, he was found guilty of deliberate homicide for his accountability. Waters will be eligible for parole when he is 70.
Man plans to plead guilty in oil patch killing of teacher Sherry Arnold http://t.co/lx7aQKHrcC pic.twitter.com/WZWSSYGN38
— Holly Michels (@hollykmichels) October 21, 2014
Montana Department of Corrections Probation Officer Wally Peter revealed Waters had a stack of previous criminal history. His file was described as, “a criminal history at least two inches thick” with several felony charges, which Waters received while in Florida throughout a duration of 18 years. Most of his history is drug related, which isn’t surprising since Spell and Waters smoked crack during their road trip to abduct Sherry Arnold.
Sherry Arnold’s husband, who has been struggling since her death, wrote a letter addressing the court to explain how much he has suffered since her absence.
“The letter detailed the pain and suffering Gary Arnold said he has gone through since his wife went missing. He cited extreme weight loss, high anxiety, depression and sleeplessness, despite being prescribed a sleeping pill.”
Now that Sherry is gone, so is their morning routine. Arnold wrote, “Those were ordinary events, but they were ours.”
Prior to his sentencing Waters turned to Arnold and offered up an apology. “I’m sorry for your loss. I truly am.”
In August of 2013, Waters pled guilty to the crime so the death penalty would be dropped. As for Michael Spell, he entered a plea in October, 2014 and said he was guilty, and the state dropped the death penalty. So far his hearing hasn’t been set.
At the time of Sherry Arnold’s death, she was out on a jog.
[Image via Independent Record]