LIMA — A 20-year-old woman who as a teenager stabbed and killed a Toledo man was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison.
Autumn Spears was indicted by an Allen County grand jury for murder and felonious assault in the Sept. 25, 2017, stabbing death of Stephan Kimble-Childress, 27. The woman pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter in November, setting up Friday’s sentencing hearing.
Police says Kimble-Childress, with whom Spears had what prosecutors termed a “volatile” relationship, was stabbed to death following an argument at Lima West Apartments on North Cole Street.
During Spears’ sentencing hearing, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Tony Miller, Defense Attorney Kenneth Rexford and Judge David Cheney all alluded to a pattern of abuse Spears has suffered throughout her life. Two psychological reports determined the young woman suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome and/or battered woman syndrome. Parties repeatedly noted that the woman has been involved in sex trafficking and prostitution. Rexford stressed that Kimble-Childress was not alone responsible for Spears’ condition.
Miller said the state’s decision to accept a plea to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter was difficult.
Despite the great number of unusual circumstances in the case, “it is the duty of the prosecutor to purse justice based on the law and not on emotion,” Miller told the court.
“It’s been difficult at times, keeping in mind the ultimate goal of the pursuit of justice. The state asks the court to recognize that mitigating factors have been taken into account in fashioning this plea and asks that the defendant be sentenced to the maximum allowed by law — 11 years.”
A letter from the mother of the victim was read aloud in court in which she claimed her son’s death was not the result of self-defense, as had been alleged, but in reality was “murder, pure and simple.”
The victim’s father addressed Spears directly, saying only, “You knew what you were doing.”
Rexford said his client had been threatened by Kimble-Childress because she had secretly recorded conversations that reportedly linked the man to a drug-related robbery in Toledo in which a man was killed.
“Autumn had evidence that would have helped the state and she told Stephan that in an effort to get him to allow her to leave,” Rexford said. “The next day they ended up in a mortal struggle” that left Kimble-Childress dead.
Spears’ mother said her daughter was “involved in an abusive relationship with this man — sex trafficking and prostitution — and didn’t know how to get out of it. He knew about the (taped conversations) and told her if she told anyone he would kill her,” Glenda Spears told the court. “I ask you to have mercy on my child.”
Autumn Spears, speaking before sentence was passed, called the incident “a situation gone bad” and apologized to the family of the victim.
“I didn’t mean to kill him. I felt like I was protecting my own life. But I do apologize,” she said.