MOORHEAD — Prosecutors on Thursday, July 11, asked a Clay County District Court judge to find that any future prison sentence an Ada, Minn., woman may face in connection with the death of a Wahpeton, N.D., man, be enhanced upward from state guidelines.
Kayla Louise Westcott, 35, faces one count of second-degree aiding and abetting a murder with intent, but without premeditation in the death of Troy Yarbrough, a Wahpeton man who went missing and whose remains were later found at a Hitterdal, Minn., farmstead owned by Jason Jensen.
Jensen, 40, pleaded guilty to a charge identical to the one Westcott faces, and he was sentenced in June to more than 38 years in prison.
At a court hearing, Jensen pinned the killing of Yarbrough on Westcott, claiming he only helped dispose of Yarbrough's body.
Jensen said he and Westcott picked up Yarbrough the weekend of May 19, 2018, and the three of them were in a shed on the farmstead when, Jensen said, he saw Westcott hit Yarbrough with a cinder block.
He said after returning a few hours later and finding Yarbrough still alive, Westcott struck Yarbrough with an ax.
Court records state Westcott told investigators it was Jensen who assaulted Yarbrough, first with a rake handle and an ax and later with a cinder block.
At a contested omnibus hearing Thursday, Judge Michael Fritz took under advisement a request from the prosecution that the court determine whether evidence supported an aggravated sentence in Westcott's case.
The prosecution stated in a court filing that grounds for an upward sentencing departure include the contention that Westcott murdered Yarbrough and then cut up and burned his body before burying it where it went undetected for almost a month.
The court filing also contends that Westcott has attempted to shift blame for the crime to Jensen.
Fritz took the prosecution's request under advisement and gave both sides time to provide the court with written briefs.
A trial date has not been set in the case, and Westcott remains in the Clay County Jail.