Weleetka Residents: Justice Served By Kevin Sweat Guilty Plea In Three Deaths
WELEETKA, Oklahoma - A community consumed for six years with unanswered questions about the shocking deaths of two girls, finally has a sense of justice.
Kevin Sweat pled guilty to the 2008 murders of 11-year-old Skyla Whitaker and 13-year-old Taylor Paschal-Placker, and the murder of his fiancée, Ashley Taylor three years later.
Now people in Weleetka hope the plea helps the community move forward.
For such a long time, no one in Weleetka really knew what led to the deaths of Skyla Whitaker and Taylor Paschal-Placker - or who would do such a thing.
"For that kind of heinous crime to happen to young girls, sometimes words can't express it, but right away you want whoever is responsible to be caught," said Weleetka resident Cheryle Leeper.
The girls were shot and killed as they walked down a rural road in Weleetka in 2008. Cheryle Leeper lives near where the girls' bodies were discovered.
"No one wants anything like this to happen to members of their family, and this town is like a big family," she said.
After Kevin Sweat's guilty plea Thursday in the deaths of the girls and the murder three years later of his fiance Ashley Taylor, many people in Weleetka say there is a sense of relief.
Leeper said she was hoping the day would come.
While prosecutors intended to seek the death penalty, they dropped those plans after he agreed to waive his right to a jury trial.
James Tudor is glad the girls' families will be spared the pain of going through a trial.
"Having to relive the horror of losing your kids in detail all over again, is really - I'm glad they're spared that," said James Tudor, Weleetka resident.
The plea leaves Sweat facing either three life sentences or life without parole. And as Weeletka resident Cheryle Leeper puts it, it leaves the town closer to healing - 2,245 days since the girls' bodies were discovered.
A time when Skyla would be getting ready for her senior year in high school, and Taylor perhaps her first year of college.
"I'm not ready for the prayers to stop because anytime, when those kind of things happen, they always take a lot of prayers, a lot of healing," Leeper said.