A 15-year-old girl was convicted of all charges Friday for her role in a high-profile kidnapping of an elderly Kennewick woman last November.
KateLynn Kenfield is the first of three teens to go on trial for the abduction of Hazel Abel, the 87-year-old great-grandmother of one of the defendants.
Kenfield was found guilty of first-degree kidnapping, residential burglary and second-degree theft of a motor vehicle by Benton County Superior Court Judge Cameron Mitchell, who conducted a non-jury trial.
Kenfield, who was tried as a juvenile, will appeal, her attorney said Friday.
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The teens are accused of forcing their way into Abel’s Kennewick home in a bid to steal her car as part of a plan to run away. Abel was hooded, bound and stuffed in the trunk of her car with her dog. The teens stopped at another location to pick up blankets and coats for their trip, then drove to Oregon.
Abel freed her hands, released the trunk lid and escaped with her dog when the teens stopped about six hours later at the Walmart in Wood Village, Ore.
Police and prosecutors allege there were discussions among the teens to kill Abel and use her car to run away.
Kenfield was 14 at the time of the kidnapping.
Judge Mitchell rejected the defense claim that Kenfield played a lesser role in the incident because she was under the influence of her alleged accomplices, Dyllan K. Martin, 16, and Billy J. Underwood, 15.
Both Martin and Underwood are charged as adults and await trial. Martin is Abel’s great-grandson.
Mitchell said Kenfield’s claim she waited outside Abel’s home while the others went inside was inconsistent with testimony from the victim and from a witness. Abel testified she heard a female voice in her garage before the car departed. Kenfield was the only other female on the scene.
A neighbor testified about seeing the car pull out of the garage and leave without stopping to pick anyone up, bolstering the prosecution’s argument that Kenfield reached the garage through the home and had a more active role.
“She was present when the car was taken from the garage,” he said. “That voice was Miss Kenfield’s voice.”
As a result, he said Kenfield is guilty of assisting Martin and Underwood in the ongoing kidnapping and subsequent flight to Portland.
Mitchell found the testimony of a fellow inmate that Kenfield told her she’d watched out the window to ensure Abel did not get out of the trunk compelling, he said. A third inmate disputed the statement, but Mitchell said she was too far away to have clearly understood the conversation.
The judge also rejected testimony of psychiatrist Frank Ochberg, who said Kenfield may have suffered from PTSD or trauma bonding, suggesting reduced responsibility. He was not able to make a clinical diagnosis, Mitchell noted.
Mitchell called Ochberg’s testimony “educational” but not conclusive. He said there was no evidence Martin or Underwood used threats or force to compel Kenfield to remain with them when they left Kennewick.
Mitchell delivered the three guilty verdicts in court after earlier rejecting defense attorney Scott Johnson’s motion to issue a written verdict.
Johnson said he’d wanted privacy to explain the verdict to his young client and to prepare her for a potential penalty phase if she was found guilty.
Kenfield remains in custody pending a pre-sentencing hearing.