A former Jordan High student who fatally stabbed his former girlfriend to death, then calmly returned to school, could be released from prison while still in his early 30s under a plea deal approved Thursday.
Kelton Fox, 20, took a plea deal reducing his charge from first-degree to second-degree murder in the 2015 stabbing death of Tierra Hall. He was sentenced to between 12 and 15 years in prison.
Both Fox and Hall, who had broken off a relationship with Fox a few months before the killing, were 17 at the time.
During Thursday’s hearing, Assistant District Attorney Luke Bumm said Fox lured Hall away from campus on March 27, 2015, by taking her cellphone. Bumm said surveillance footage from the school showed playful, friendly interactions between Hall and Fox.
Fox led Hall to a vacant house on Trotter Ridge Road, less than a mile from the high school, where he used to live, Fox arriving first followed quickly by Hall. Their arrival was also captured on surveillance footage from a nearby house.
Fox stabbed Hall multiple times behind the house, killing her.
He then returned to school about 30 minutes later, where a teacher in the classroom where Fox had left his book bag said Fox seemed perfectly calm.
That afternoon, Bumm said, Fox called his mother for her to pick him up, saying he didn’t feel well. His mother also told investigators that he seemed calm when she picked him up.
Bumm said Hall had begun talking to another possible romantic interest on a daily basis, which her cellphone would have reflected. The phone was never recovered, Bumm said.
Hall’s body was discovered the next day. A hall pass written out by Jordan’s school resource officer helped identify the body.
On March 31, 2015, a search warrant was executed at Fox’s home, where investigators found a pair of shoes that appeared to be the same as Fox was wearing in the surveillance video from the day of the killing. There was blood on the shoes, and a State Bureau of Investigations analysis found the blood to match Hall’s DNA.
Investigators also found a journal that referred to “King K tha Savage,” which was also written on the door of the vacant home. The journal also contained a passage talking about “an uncontrollable lust for blood,” Bumm said.
“I don’t like it,” a friend of the Hall family, Ida Kollock, said of the sentence. “I mean nothing’ll bring Tierra back. He’s the one who has to live with it. So, I put it in the hands of God.”
Bumm had asked Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson to impose a much harsher sentence of 20 to 25 years.
Fox will receive more than two years’ credit on his sentence for time he has spent in jail awaiting trial. Fox’s attorneys also asked that he get mental health treatment in prison.
Bumm said the state had a strong case for first-degree murder, considering how well Fox knew the area and showed signs he had thought about what he was doing. There was no sign of struggle, he said, and no defensive wounds on either Fox or Hall.
In sentencing Fox, Hudson cited several mitigating factors, including Fox’s mental condition, his young age and immaturity at the time of the murder, his acceptance of responsibility and his sense of remorse.
Fox’s attorney, Jay Ferguson, read from a mental health analysis stating Fox suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, paranoia, hallucinations and elements of borderline personality disorder. He was abandoned by his father and raised around domestic violence.
“This is an extremely tragic case, extremely, and this sentence is not going to fix the situation," Hudson said. "Nothing can fix this situation.”