An Akron woman wiped away tears Friday afternoon as she pleaded guilty in the 2017 stabbing death of her boyfriend.
Crystal Bruce, 34, who was scheduled to go on trial for murder Monday, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter and two lesser charges. Under an agreement with prosecutors, she will be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Bruce will be sentenced at 1 p.m. Monday by Summit County Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty.
Police said Bruce stabbed her boyfriend Shawn Belville, 34, in the chest Sept. 26, 2017, at a home in the 700 block of Garfield Street on North Hill. Bruce told police she got into a quarrel with Belville before stabbing him. Belville was pronounced dead at the scene.
Besides voluntary manslaughter, Bruce also pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and illegal cultivation of marijuana. Prosecutors dropped a second murder charge — under a different part of state law — and a felonious assault charge.
Bruce faced life in prison if she had been convicted of murder.
Prosecutors said Bruce cleaned up the crime scene and hid the knife she used in the stabbing.
Assistant Prosecutor Jon Baumoel said Belville’s family and Akron detectives signed off on the plea deal.
“Everybody is on board,” he said.
As McCarty went over the rights she was giving up by pleading guilty, Bruce answered her questions with a barely audible, “Yes, your honor.” She tried shifting her position and using her long, brown hair to avoid having her picture taken by a Beacon Journal photographer.
Don Hicks, Bruce’s attorney, declined to comment until the sentencing. He was exploring a possible defense of battered woman syndrome.
Bruce is being held at the Summit County Jail on a $100,000 bond.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, email@example.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.