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Spencer Sentenced To 40 Years

By Staff | Feb 20, 2015

Samuel Lee Spencer

Samuel Lee Spencer, 26, of 420 W Roy Furman Highway, Windridge, Pennsylvania was sentenced to a determinate sentence of 40 years in prison after entering Alford pleas to three information counts of second degree murder.

This guilty plea stemmed from a January 2013 incident in which Michael McDougal, 63 and Carmen McDougal, 55, of Littleton, along with Jimmy Kisner, 48, of Aleppo, Pa., were found dead inside of a home near Littleton following a fire.

Spencer had been charged with three counts of first degree murder. Pursuant to the plea agreement in the case, those first degree charges, along with any other charges pending, were dismissed.

Spencer received credit for 215 days already served in prison.

Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught stressed that the case consisted “largely of circumstantial evidence.”

Natasha Burns

Haught noted there was one witness who alleged that Spencer made an inculpatory statement, admitting to the crime a short time after the murders occurred. “The state has no other direct evidence other than that statement,” Haught explained. “There is video evidence which would tend to prove that a vehicle matching the description of a vehicle that he was known to ride in, went to the residence and left the residence shortly before the residence caught fire, but there is not direct evidence other than the alleged statement.”

Haught explained that given the evidence in the case and the possibility of an acquittal, the prosecution believed that the plea was in the best interest of the state.

Also, the codefendant in the case, Natasha Burns, 27, of 420 W Roy Furman Highway, Windridge, Pa., pleaded no contest to an information misdemeanor count of obstructing a law enforcement officer. The state contends that Burns gave false information to the West Virginia State Police regarding the three murders. For this offense, Burns was sentenced to a period of 215 days and was given credit for time served. With this credit, she was expected to be released from custody today.

Burns had also been charged previously with three counts of first degree murder. Those charges, along with any other pending charges, were dismissed.

Haught noted that there had been a statement which placed Burns at the scene of the crime. However, Haught anticipated there would have been a motion by the defense to suppress that statement. Haught said that without the statement, there was no direct evidence to place Burns at the crime. Haught referenced the videotape evidence again, but he noted that the state could not have proved that Burns was driving the vehicle.

Haught further released a statement regarding the Spencer/Burns case.

“The decision to accept a guilty plea in this case was made after lengthy consultation with the investigating officers and with family members of the victims. It was an objective and impartial decision based entirely upon the lack of direct evidence and concerns regarding the credibility of a key witness . . . It was a legal decision based upon the quality of evidence, the applicable law, and a careful assessment of the probability of acquittal if this case went to a jury.”

Haught further stated that an acquittal in the case “is an outcome that would not serve the interests of justice, the victims’ families, or protect our community.”

“(The plea) may not be the perfect outcome but it avoids the very real and dangerous possibility of the terrible injustice of an acquittal by a jury and it sentences Defendant Spencer to a substantial term of imprisonment.”

The Wetzel Chronicle will have more coverage regarding today’s court proceedings in its Feb. 25 print edition.