YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – It’s been a long three years for the family of murder victim Shannon Graves. They’re waiting to see justice served for all who’ve been charged in the case. On Thursday, they got one step closer.
Debbie DePaul, Graves’ sister, was in court again, as she has been for so many other hearings. She was waiting to hear the fourth and final defendant take a deal with prosecutors.
In court Thursday, Andrew Herrmann took a plea deal, whispering “guilty.”
Three others in this case have also entered guilty pleas — Novoa, Katrina Layton and Michelle Ihlenfeld — Herrmann’s estranged wife.
“It’s a validation of the whole thing,” DePaul said. “Hearing them, it’s like they’re taking responsibility for what they did but, like I said, too, I wish they had to say it louder.”
Herrmann was charged with dismembering Graves’ body three years ago after she was killed by one-time boyfriend Arturo Novoa. They then split up her credit cards and other belongings.
Prosecutors said Herrmann also helped others in the case by moving the victim’s remains around the area for months until they were finally discovered.
Herrmann pleaded to counts of tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and an unrelated drug trafficking charge.
Lawyers for both sides are recommending he be sentenced to 12 years in prison.
While the plea brings DePaul closer to finally seeing justice for her sister, she admitted it’ll be difficult to put all of this behind her.
“But to have the weight off of my shoulders of going through all of this for three years, it’s a good feeling and it’s going to be a larger relief at that point.”
That day could be March 11 when Herrmann is sentenced.
Novoa is serving a life sentence for murder, while Layton, his girlfriend, was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Ihlenfeld will spend another six months in prison before heading to a six-month counseling program for substance abuse.