A woman accused of killing her boyfriend had been making plans online to run away with his brother in the days before his death and afterward while she was living with his decomposing body, according to court records.
PANAMA CITY — A woman accused of killing her boyfriend had been making plans online to run away with his brother in the days before his death and afterward while she was living with his decomposing body, according to court records.
Melissa Kennedy, 42, and her co-defendant, 33-year-old Jason Patton Cantrell, appeared in court Thursday for a pretrial conference.
Kennedy is charged with first-degree murder for the death of 59-year-old Clifford Lewis last October at his home in Cedar Grove. The killing occurred while she was planning to run away with his brother, court records state.
Kennedy’s trial is tentatively schedule for Aug. 8.
Cantrell, who faces a charge of accessory to first-degree murder, has yet to be scheduled for trial.
In their indictment, prosecutors accuse Kennedy of premeditating Lewis’ murder. They recently published a transcript of a text conversation Oct. 12 between Kennedy and Lewis’ brother, sent via Skype, a program commonly used to make video calls. At times lewd, the texts often refer to them running away together.
“Nothing is going to (redacted) this up,” she wrote in one message. “… I just want to run away with you far away from Panama City.”
Authorities have not released the date Lewis was killed. They say only that he had been dead for some time while Kennedy continued to live with his decomposing body until they discovered the crime scene Oct. 22.
BCSO incident reports indicate Kennedy allegedly confessed at the time of her arrest and implicated Cantrell in a murder plot. One of the first things officers heard Kennedy say after they arrested her outside 2729 E. 16th St. was “it was in self-defense,” officers quoted her as saying.
In one Skype message Oct. 15, Kennedy makes similar allegations.
“This is a picture of my back. Zoom in on my back,” she wrote. “This is what your brother did to me this afternoon … We got into an argument. He did this to my back.”
The messages then cease until the day of Kennedy’s arrest, when she sends one final query.
“Hey. What are you doing,” she wrote.
Kennedy told deputies after the shooting that she had been sleeping next to Lewis’ body, talking to him and cooking for him for several days.
Inside the home, deputies discovered Lewis’ body under a bundle of blankets on the floor against a wall in a bedroom. He’d been shot twice, once in the thigh and once in his chest.
Family members had called BCSO to check on Lewis, who was in the latter stages of terminal cancer.
When deputies arrived they found Kennedy inside a white truck in front of the home armed with a rifle and threatening to take her own life.
Investigators later discovered Lewis had plans to evict Kennedy from his home.
The two met when Kennedy was a stripper in 2010, but their relationship had devolved into spats and domestic violence. He had just filed papers to have her evicted from his home, but she had been on house arrest at the residence with an ankle monitor.
The last time Lewis’ family members heard from him, he said he would be OK and Kennedy would be out of his home in a week.
Cantrell is charged with assisting Kennedy after the crime because he allegedly concealed what authorities believe to be the murder weapon in a storage shed of his. Cantrell’s attorney has said the search of the shed was illegal, according to court records.