Sixteen-year-old convicted of lesser crime - Quad-Cities Online: Iowa

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Sixteen-year-old convicted of lesser crime

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Posted: Friday, September 18, 1998 1:00 am | Updated: 1:02 pm, Tue Apr 22, 2014.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- A Polk County jury found a 16-year-old girl guilty of intent to commit serious injury instead of the first-degree murder she was tried for.

Courtney Burnett-Nelson faces a maximum of two years in prison instead of the mandatory life sentence you would have received for a murder conviction in the Jan. 2 slaying of Kelsey Bitting, 20.

``She's going to go home and live in Peoria Heights, where she's been her entire life except for the time she spent here in hell,'' said Kimmie Burnett, the girl's mother, who planned to bail her out today. ``She's going to get back to being a teen-ager.''

Burnett-Nelson cried as the verdict was read Thursday, putting her head in her hands. She is to be sentenced Oct. 28.

Prosecutors said Burnett-Nelson fired the first shots at Bitting, who was sitting in the passenger seat of a car.

The defense had argued that Burnett-Nelson was only there because she had been threatened by Bitting's husband, Bobby Morris, who also shot at Bitting and who has been convicted of murder.

Burnett-Nelson had been in Des Moines for only a month, to try to improve her relationship with her father, when she was charged in the murder.

After the verdict, Polk County District Judge Robert Blink agreed to her lawyer's request to transfer Burnett-Nelson to the juvenile detention center, Meyer Hall, and to lower her bond. Her bond, which had been set at $100,000 was reduced to $1,300.

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