Amanda Bennett

Amanda Bennett

A teenager pleaded guilty to murder Monday, telling a judge the death was related to satanic worship.

Amanda Bennett, 17, pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree murder in the death of Kaytlin Root last October in Krug Park. In court testimony, she said the 17-year-old’s death was a planned satanic sacrifice offered by herself and Sebastian Dowell.

Jamie Jaramillo, the victim’s mother, other family members and friends listened as the murder details were revealed. And then several women began to weep.

Bennett put much of the blame on her partner Dowell, who also faces a charge of second-degree murder. He’s being held in the Buchanan County Jail and has entered a plea of not guilty. He will return to court in March for a trial setting.

Bennett admitted the two decided they had to murder two people a year as part of their religious ceremonies. She said she got on social media to find two victims.

“I got on Facebook and messaged a couple of depressed people,” Bennett said.

Root was the first one to respond, so Bennett arranged for the teen to meet them at Hyde Park.

At Hyde Park, the three decided to go to a local convenience store and then head to Krug Park, where they got out and went hiking on a trail.

“Sebastian said it had to happen now,” Bennett said.

Bennett confessed to taking a stick and hitting Root, and she said Dowell knocked the teen to the ground, hitting and choking her. Bennett said Dowell took a syringe and shot something into Root’s neck and the teen seemed to pass out.

Then Bennett said Dowell told her in order for the murder to be a pure sacrifice she had to stab Root. Bennett maintained she couldn’t do it, so Dowell stabbed Root in the chest.

Bennett said Dowell then said Root’s clothes had to be taken off. After they’d done that, the pair were gathering up items when Bennett looked over to where Root was supposed to be on the ground and saw her standing up.

Dowell proceeded to stab Root again, Bennett said. Then, she said, Dowell told her Root had to have her throat slit.

“I couldn’t do it,” Bennett said.

So she said Dowell did the deed.

Prosecutor Dwight Scroggins made the plea bargain, agreeing not to file a first-degree murder charge for what Bennett described as a planned murder.

The felony carries a possible sentence of 10 to 30 years or life in prison. Before being eligible to be considered for parole, the law requires a convicted inmate to serve 85 percent of their murder sentence.

Buchanan County Circuit Judge Patrick Robb took time before Bennett’s confession to explain in detail all of her rights and question her about her understanding of them.

Following the confession, the judge had questions.

“Did you know the victim?” Robb asked.

“I knew her in school,” Bennett said.

“Was your purpose to kill her?” the judge asked.

“Yes,” Bennett said.

Robb decided he needed to have a mental health evaluation as well as a background report on Bennett before sentencing. The judge set the case for a Monday, April 24, sentencing, but he said the date could change if he hasn’t received the mental health evaluation before that.

Marshall White can be reached at marshall.white@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWhite.