The mother and father of an Akron man who was stabbed in 2017 told the woman convicted in his death Monday they’ll be praying for her while she’s in prison.
They also said they hope Crystal Bruce will seek assistance from support groups and other programs while she’s in prison so she’ll have a better life when she is released.
“Please, please get help,” said Tom Belville, the father of Shawn Belville. Tom Belville shared that the best help he's received has come from God.
Bruce, 34, pleaded guilty Friday to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter and two lesser charges. She was scheduled to go on trial for murder Monday.
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty sentenced Bruce Monday to 15 years in prison, the amount agreed upon by prosecutors and Bruce’s attorney, Don Hicks.
Police said Bruce stabbed Belville, 34, in the chest Sept. 26, 2017, at a home in the 700 block of Garfield Street in North Hill. Bellville was pronounced dead at the scene.
Prosecutors said Bruce cleaned up the crime scene and hid the knife she used in the stabbing.
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.
Rebecca Seaburn, Shawn Belville’s mother, said during Bruce’s sentencing that she misses her son’s text messages and hearing his voice. She said she thinks about all of the things he’ll miss, like seeing his kids graduate, walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding and spoiling his future grandchildren. She said his death turned the family “upside down.”
Tom Belville said he wishes Bruce had left his son rather than killing him. He thanked the court for not putting the family through a trial.
Bruce, who faced Belville’s family as she spoke, gave a tearful apology.
“I never meant for this to happen like this,” she said, her voice catching. “I’m very, very sorry for everything. I hope you forgive me and I’ll be praying for you guys as well.”
Hicks said Bruce has struggled with what she did and is very remorseful.
McCarty said it’s rare to have family members express concern like they did in this case.
“It’s heartening to see all the forgiveness — and the remorse,” she said.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, email@example.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.