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Kassandra Seese gets 20 years for negligent homicide, 15 years suspended

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Updated and corrected Nov. 28

By Caleb M. Soptelean/Valley Journal

POLSON – A woman involved in the death of 18-year-old Richard Warner was handed a 20-year sentence on Nov. 23 with all but five years suspended.

Kassandra Seese, 24, was sentenced by District Court Judge James A. Manley to the Department of Corrections for accountability to negligent homicide in accord with a plea agreement, but Warner’s parents were not happy about it.

A plea agreement for her husband, Stephen Seese, calls for him to get 40 years in prison with no time suspended, also for accountability to negligent homicide. That case will be in court on Dec. 7.

Warner’s mother, Tabitha Warner, testified first and said that her son was “thrown away like a piece of trash like he was nothing.” Warner’s body was found in the shower of a trailer in Arlee on June 2 after it had been decomposing for several months.

Tabitha Warner said that the Seeses’ two children were present when the killing occurred and probably saw it happen.

“How could you have your kids there in the camper while their cousin hanged only inches away in the bathroom?” she asked rhetorically.

Kassandra Seese and her two children moved to live with Tabitha and Joseph Warner following the murder, Tabitha said.

“You lied to me and the family day in and day out while you lived under our roof,” she said. “You tried to bring the camper to Osburn (Idaho) knowing our son was in the bathroom.”

“Have you taken the time to think about how this affects not only adults but children?” she asked.

Her 9-year-old autistic son doesn’t understand why his brother was killed, said Tabitha, who cried repeatedly during her testimony.

“I do not agree with the plea,” she added. “It feels like she is getting a slap on the wrist.”

Seese bowed her head and was seen crying toward the later part of Tabitha’s testimony.

Warner’s father, Joseph Warner, said his son didn’t like altercations and didn’t like to fight.

“His body was found in the bathroom underneath a stack of trash,” he said.

When their son’s body was found, he and his wife kicked Kassandra Seese out of their Idaho home, he said.

He recalled his wife asking Seese why she didn’t say anything about their son’s death and that Seese has said she was afraid of her husband.

Joseph didn’t believe that.

Both parents complained about the “whole process.” Joseph said they were told that their son’s body couldn’t be released until after trial in case of appeal and then later found out that it had been released in September.

“Where’s the phone call to us?” he asked, adding that the body “was released to a grandmother and a stranger even though both parents are alive.”

“I feel like we have been railroaded. We feel ignored or belittled,” he said.

Tina Medrano was the third and final person to testify. She gave Manley photos of the Seeses’ children, a 2-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy, along with Warner’s two siblings, a 9-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl.

Medrano, who said she has gone from being Kassandra Seese’s adoptive aunt, godmother and mother-in-law, said she loves her with all her heart but she is broken.

The Seeses’ daughter, who turns 3 in December, wakes up at night screaming, “Grandma, kiss it better,” Medrano said, noting she quit her job in order to take care of the Seeses’ children.

“The plea bargain and sentence are ludicrous to me,” she said. “That you were willing to put your husband in prison for life … you are just as guilty, more so in some ways. I honestly believe you were equally involved.”

“I can’t say what I want the sentence to be. My mind changes every second,” Medrano said. “It’s not even a slap on the wrist.”

Lake County Attorney Steve Eschenbacher said he agrees that the sentence seems inadequate, but added that he can’t prove deliberate homicide because both Kassandra and Stephen Seese say the other person killed Warner.

“The only two people who know what actually happened can’t testify against each other,” he said, referring to state law.

Eschenbacher said he believes Stephen Seese killed Warner because of his broken bones and injuries to the back of his neck, spine, ribs and jaw. Eschenbacher referred to “outrageous blows directed at this poor kid.”

He said he couldn’t successfully prosecute Stephen Seese if it hadn’t been for Kassandra’s plea agreement. Without it, both possibly would have been acquitted if their cases went to trial, he said.

Eschenbacher added that “they hid the body so long it benefitted them,” noting “the body was so decomposed there were a lot of questions about the cause of death,” he said.

Manley apologized to the Warners.

“For the disrespect you all felt, we should all be sorry,” he said. “You deserve better than that.”

He told Kassandra Seese that “a fair sentence would involve you spending the majority of your adult life in prison.”

At the end, Seese apologized too. “I know they won’t take my apology, but I’m sorry,” she said.

She was given credit for 161 days in jail.



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