LANSING, Mich (WLNS) — A judge has sentenced Brad Cournaya to life in prison with no chance of parole for the 2008 murder of his girlfriend.
In June a jury found Cournaya guilty of killing his girlfriend 15 years ago despite the fact that investigators never found the victim’s body. Krista Lueth went missing in November of 2008 and has not been seen since.
In the more than 14 years since then, her body has never been found. Investigators say that Cournaya has always been the prime suspect and now the prosecution says it has enough to convict him of first-degree premeditated murder.
At the time of her disappearance, Krista Lueth was dating Brad Cournaya which is what initially brought him under suspicion.
Authorities later found a driver’s license and a smashed cell phone that belonged to Lueth along US-127 near the same spot where Cournaya’s car broke down the night she went missing.
Despite the fact that they didn’t have Lueth’s body – and any evidence that went along with it – Ingham County prosecutors charged Cournaya more than two years ago. It’s unusual, though not unheard of, for prosecutors to charge someone with homicide when they don’t have the victim’s body.
“Murder cases without a body are uncommon, very difficult to prove, and face increased evidentiary challenges,” Ingham County Prosecutor John Dewane said in a statement after the verdict. “Speaking from experience, a murder trial without a recovered body is one of the most difficult and complex prosecutions of all. However, in this case, forensic and circumstantial evidence were enough to overcome the absence of a physical body.”