MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. – A woman convicted of killing a suburban Detroit man and his pregnant wife with the help of her former boyfriend was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole.
Samantha Bachynski, 20, was accused along with Patrick Selepak in the February killings of Scott and Melissa Berels. She was convicted last month of first-degree murder, home invasion, aiding and abetting, and other charges.
As he sentenced her to four life terms, Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Richard Caretti told Bachynski that her actions were "beyond all bounds of human behavior."
Raymond Berels, Scott Berels' father, addressed the court before the sentencing, and provided a graphic account of the last moments of the lives of his son and daughter-in-law, which included a vicious beating with the butt of a rifle and Bachynski injecting bleach into Scott Berels with a hypodermic needle.
Raymond Berels said he wished the death penalty was an option in Michigan.
"It's too bad that a mere matter of geography has saved her from a far different fate. Regrettably, we the taxpayers of the state of Michigan will have the burden of housing, clothing and feeding this parasite for the rest of her life," Berels said.
Bachynski sobbed loudly throughout the proceeding. When given the opportunity to address the court, she blamed her fear of Selepak for her role in the killings.
"All I wanted to do is to go, but I was too scared to do it, and no one seems to understand that," she said.
"I never wanted to kill these people," she said.
Prosecutors have said Bachynski chose to help her 27-year-old boyfriend kill the Berelses, both 27, in their home. He pleaded guilty in July and is serving life without parole.
Bachynski had testified that Selepak had told her he or someone else would kill her and her family unless she helped him. That account differed from an earlier, taped confession she gave to police.
Bachynski also faces trial on first-degree murder and other charges in the death of Winfield Johnson Jr., 53. He had befriended Selepak and Bachynski at a bar and invited them to stay at his house, then was killed Feb. 21 after learning they were being sought in the Berelses' deaths six days earlier.
After Johnson was killed, authorities say, the couple stole his pickup truck and drove to visit a friend in Owosso, where they were captured. Johnson's body was found in the back of the truck.
Selepak was mistakenly released from prison Jan. 10 and became engaged to Bachynski that day.
The case led to widespread criticism of Michigan parole officials who allowed Selepak to remain free despite a domestic violence complaint against him. Several parole workers were disciplined and state rules were tightened.