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Robin Root resentenced to up to 50 years for killing former landlord

By Nina DeSarro/WZZM-TV • Oct 18, 2018 at 9:00 AM

GRAND RAPIDS — Robin Root, who was convicted three years ago of murdering her landlord, was sentenced Wednesday to up to 50 years in prison following last month’s retrial.

In September, a Kent County jury found Root, 55, guilty in the 2007 murder of Janna Kelly.

In 2015, a jury convicted Root of first-degree murder and she was sentenced to life in prison. But that conviction was overturned by the state Court of Appeals after justices said some evidence presented at the trial should have been off limits.

That led to a new trial last month. The new set of jurors found Root guilty of second-degree murder.

Kelly was Root's former landlord. Investigators said Root strangled her and left her in the the trunk of a car with her mouth duct-taped shut in 19-degree weather. She then drove to a blueberry field in Grand Haven Township, where she stripped Kelly, doused her in gasoline and set her on fire.

"I have not been able to detect any true sorrow or remorse for what you did, but only sorrow that you were caught,” Kent County Circuit Judge Joseph Rossi said at this week’s sentencing. “I can't do anything to return Janna Kelly to her family, but I can honor their request that you receive the maximum sentence under the sentencing guidelines.”

Rossi sentenced Root to 25-50 years in a state prison.

Root read a statement in which she said she had been trying to better herself while behind bars. She said God has given her the strength to move forward and will help her right her wrongs.

Kelly's daughter, Dana Isola, said Root's statement meant nothing.

"It's empty,” Isola said. “It's basically she's saying what she thinks she's supposed to say to try to get less years. She doesn't have real remorse or feel for anyone but herself. It wasn't life, but 25-50 is hopefully life for her."

Rossi said it's a tragedy that two families’ lives are ruined because of a past-due rent bill. The judge also ordered Root to pay $2,900 of back rent to Kelly's family.

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