Leftwich Enters Guilty Plea In Murder Of Sunday School Teacher

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- In what was originally scheduled as a motions hearing Thursday, murder suspect Dustin Leftwich, 21, instead made a plea deal in the killing of Seaman High School graduate Brenna Morgart.

Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jacqie Spradling, and defense attorney Kathleen Ambrosio met with District Court Judge Cheryl Kingfisher in chambers Tuesday, Jan. 8 to advise that the motions hearing scheduled for January 10th would instead be a plea hearing.

Leftwich was charged with one count each of Capital Murder, Aggravated Kidnapping, Aggravated Battery, Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, False Information or Report Concerning an Accident, Aggravated Battery, and Rape. Those amended charges were filed by Taylor in November. A count of rape was added, which was the basis for the capital murder charge. The rape charge was amended to attempted rape as part of the deal.

Both parties agreed to the plea, recommending a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Brenna Morgart, a homecoming queen and Sunday school teacher, graduated with honors from Seaman High School five days before her death in May 2012.

She went out for a jog near her northwest Shawnee County home in May. Authorities say she was hit by a car and her body moved several miles to where it was found in a field.

In a recount of May 25, 2012 events, Taylor said Brenna went for a walk or jog between 10:15 a.m. and 11 a.m., which was a normal exercise routine. Her parents called authorities when she didn't return home. Taylor said Leftwich hit Brenna with his car. A detective later said he noticed Leftwich's car had a dent in the hood and a round mark in the smashed windshield, consistent with the imprint of a human head. Leftwich initially said he hit a deer before later telling detectives "I hit her."

Taylor said after hitting Brenna, Leftwich put her in his trunk. She was still alive. Taylor said evidence shows Brenna tried to escape the inside of the trunk. Leftwich drove to the 6600 block of Huxman Road, opened the trunk, hit Brenna with a tire iron, attempted to rape her, then dragged her body to the creek side, where he threw her into the creek, face down.

A coroner said Brenna was still alive. Her cause of death was drowning.

Leftwich will be sentenced on February 15, 2013.