Prosecutors plan to seek ‘hard 50' in Lawrence homicide case

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Sarah McLinn accepted a first degree murder and vehicle theft charge during her first court appearance at the Douglas County Courthouse on Monday.

The 19-year-old could face life in prison, with a chance of parole after 50 years.

This is 15 more years than what normally comes from a first degree murder charge, but Douglas Co. District Attorney Charles Branson says the nature of 52-year-old Harold Sasko's murder calls for more time.

McLinn is charged with beating to death Sasko, who she was living with in Lawrence, Kan.

She fled to Miami in Sasko's car, and was eventually found illegally camping at the Everglades National Park. Park rangers arrested her on the scene.

"Simply put, we believe that the facts of this case, once they're revealed in the courtroom, will be evidence of that heinous, atrocious, cruel offense that the Kansas legislature has decided as warranted for a crime of this nature," said Branson, "that a higher penalty is appropriate."

McLinn's attorney Carl Cornwell, however, calls it a death sentence.

He, along with a forensic psychologist, met with McLinn shortly after her arrival back to Kansas.

Cornwell says McLinn is calm and knows exactly what is going on, however, he says she is emotionally and mentally troubled.

"There's just, I think, I'm not sure, going to be a lot of testing going on, a lot of talking , trying to figure out what motivation was there what motivation wasn't there I'm not quite sure," Cornwell said.

Cornwell says he hopes to meet with the DA to discuss a lesser plea deal, and avoid going to court before a jury.

McLinn's next court appearance has been set for March 27 at the Douglas County Courthouse.

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