Cassandra Rieb Murders Grandparents

Cassandra Rieb and her boyfriend Brendan Johnson were two teen killers from Colorado who would murder his Grandparents Charles and Shirley Severance

According to court documents Cassandra Rieb and Brendan Johnson decided to murder Charles and Shirley Severance in order to get their hands on a $20,000 inheritance and the Grandparents house. The teen killers would smother the elderly couple with pillows while they slept

Cassandra Rieb would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to eighty years in prison

Brendan Johnson would be arrested, plead guilty to avoid the death penalty and was sentenced to life without parole

Cassandra Rieb Now

cassandra rieb today
Name: RIEB, CASSANDRA A Age: 27 Ethnicity: WHITE Gender: FEMALE Hair Color: BROWN Eye Color: BLUE Height: 5′ 02″ Weight: 157DOC Number: 168793 Est. Parole
Eligibility Date: 05/02/2071 Next Parole
Hearing Date: Feb 2071 This offender is scheduled on the Parole Board agenda for the month and year above. Please contact the facility case manager for the exact date.
Est. Mandatory
Release Date: 05/02/2091 Est. Sentence
Discharge Date:   Current Facility

Brendan Johnson Now

brendan johnson today
Name: JOHNSON, BRENDAN L Age: 29 Ethnicity: WHITE Gender: MALE Hair Color: BROWN Eye Color: HAZEL Height: 5′ 08″ Weight: 185DOC Number: 168759 Est. Parole
Eligibility Date: Next Parole
Hearing Date: This offender is scheduled on the Parole Board agenda for the month and year above. Please contact the facility case manager for the exact date.
Est. Mandatory
Release Date: 01/25/9999 Est. Sentence
Discharge Date:   Current Facility

Cassandra Rieb Videos

Cassandra Rieb Case

A status conference in the murder trial of Cassandra Rieb turned into a plea agreement and sentencing instead on Friday. The 19-year-old Sterling native pleaded guilty to two added felony counts that carry a sentence of 80 years in prison.

Cassandra Rieb was charged last year in the murders of Charles and Shirley Severance and was facing a possible death sentence. Her boyfriend and co-defendant, 20-year-old Brendan Johnson — the Severances’ grandson — was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Monday after pleading guilty to first degree murder of Shirley Severance, in exchange for having 13 other charges dropped and the withdrawal of intent to seek death penalty.

After admitting to second degree murder and first degree assault with a deadly weapon on an at-risk victim for the death of 70-year-old Shirley Severance, Cassandra Rieb was sentenced to consecutive terms of 48 years and 32 years, respectively, followed by 5 years mandatory parole. In exchange, the 13 original counts were dropped, along with a pending case on a contraband charge she received while in jail.
District Attorney Brittny Lewton noted that as crimes of violence, the convictions carry a statutory mandate that Cassandra Rieb serve at least 75 percent of her sentence. However, she added, the Department of Corrections may not honor that mandate. Regardless, Lewton said Rieb will probably serve at least 65 percent of her 80-year sentence, and should she be granted parole, she will be “very elderly” when she leaves prison.

In accepting the plea agreement, Judge Charles Hobbs spoke about the tragedy at the heart of the case: the deaths of the two victims. While many others have suffered from the crime, he said it would be “a disservice” to the couple if the loss of their lives was not the central focus of his decision.
One thing all sides agreed on was that Rieb had a lot going for her.

Defense attorney Tina Tussay addressed the court and talked about Cassandra Rieb’s background. She noted the numerous interviews the defense team conducted in preparing for the case, and said the common message was that Rieb “was a good girl.”

Tussay cited Cassandra Rieb’s many accomplishments in school and extra curricular activities. She said that the fall of 2013, when Rieb was a senior at Sterling High School, should have been an exciting time in Rieb’s life. Rieb was “on her way to a bright future,” Tussay said.

However, their interviews and research also showed that over the months leading up to December 2013, something was “seriously bothering” Cassandra Rieb, something that she wouldn’t talk about with anyone. Rieb underwent a dramatic change, and the once-honor student dropped out of school and began using drugs daily to cope with her pain, Tussay said, calling Rieb’s behavior a “downward spiral.” She acknowledged that her client is “imperfect and damaged,” and that she does things she wouldn’t otherwise do while under the influence of drugs.

Tussay said the plea agreement represents that “Justice can be mercy,” calling it merciful that both Rieb and Johnson were spared the possibility of a death sentence. She said she was “blessed and proud” to defend Rieb, and hopes her client will emerge “older and wiser” from prison.

Cassandra Rieb’s clean background was one of the factors Lewton mentioned when explaining why and how she differentiated Rieb’s case from Johnson’s. She noted that Johnson had previous contact with law enforcement, including serving time for a third minor in possession charge.

She explained that in the beginning, she opted to keep the two cases equally situated, and that she “firmly believes” Johnson would have faced the death penalty if he had gone to trial. After the hearing, Lewton said her primary focus was getting the stiffest penalty she could for Johnson. After his case was done, she turned her attention to Cassandra Rieb’s case and evaluated her individually.

Lewton told the court that the evidence showed that Cassandra Rieb was not the one to inflict the final blow for either victim, even though she tried. Lewton said the idea for the crime originated with Johnson; although Facebook and text messages show that Rieb enjoyed discussing the idea, Lewton said how serious Rieb was about the plot could be argued. And because Johnson was the victims’ grandson, he was the one who might have gained from their deaths. “He committed the most serious of moral sins” by killing his own family members, Lewton said, noting Rieb did not have any direct connection with the Severances.

Lewton also spoke about her contact with Jill Johnson, the Severances’ daughter and Brendan Johnson’s mother, who could not attend Friday’s hearing. She said Jill was in an “awkward position from the beginning,” because of her relationship with both the victims and the perpetrator. Lewton said Johnson had told her she wanted both her son and Rieb to receive less than life sentences, and did not agree with Lewton’s decision to seek the death penalty but also did not attempt to block it.

After Brendan Johnson’s plea, Lewton said that Jill Johnson told her she wanted Rieb to receive the same life sentence, a position Lewton said she understood. She said it would be a difficult line to draw as both a mother and a victim.

“Everyone has an opinion as to what they think should happen,” Lewton said. However, her role is to balance justice and what’s right. It’s not easy – nor should it be – she said, and doesn’t always result in doing what she said is “politically correct.”

Lewton said Cassandra Rieb participated in everything that Johnson did during the commission of the crime, and noted that both defendants, in the end, cooperated with law enforcement, even agreeing to direct them to the remains of Shirley Severance. She said that Rieb “must be punished for these terrible murders,” and while there are differences in the two cases’ outcomes, Lewton said that with the number of years Rieb will serve, her sentence is “virtually the same” as Johnson’s.

After Lewton spoke, Rieb then addressed the court on her own behalf and offered apologies to her victims – both the Severances and Jill Johnson – and the community. In an emotional speech, she expressed regret for her actions, and hope that she will be forgiven. She also said to her parents, “This is not your fault,” and thanked her family and friends who have given her support through the court process.

Rieb said she recognized that she has been given a second chance. “I will not waste this gift,” she said, adding that she wants to find a way to contribute to the world.

Hobbs noted that cases like the Severance murders are rare, and are hard for the entire community to make sense of or reach closure. He expressed doubt about whether the criminal justice process could provide that closure.

Hobbs grew philosophical in talking about the meaning of justice, saying it is hard to define. But, he said, “I’ve never been more sure that justice is being served” by the sentences handed down to both Rieb and Johnson.

He said Rieb’s past and her potential “pales in comparison” to “the monstrous acts that are deserving of the greatest condemnation we as a community can impose.”

He noted that the terms of the agreement provide a “modest window of light,” and told Rieb that “that small hope you have” is due to mercy.

He called the sentencing “a profoundly sad day for everyone.” His closing comment to Rieb was to wish her luck.

Before the hearing ended, Hobbs set deadlines for filings on restitution, and also granted Rieb 333 days credit for time served since her arrest.

Lewton said after the hearing that in any case with co-defendants, when one reaches a plea agreement it has an impact on the other case. She believes that the death penalty filing was appropriate at the time, but said she does have to consider the resources required in a death penalty case, including the costs of the appeals process and the impact on jurors. “The facts of the case were always in our favor,” she said, but she doesn’t know how much impact her intent to seek the death penalty had on the defendants’ decision to take a plea agreement.

She said that in looking at the outcome of the two cases together, “This is justice.”

UPDATED: Rieb to serve 80 years in Severance murder case

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