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Erends gets life without the possibility of parole

By: Eric Laughlin, The Press Tribune
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The Roseville woman convicted last month of brutally murdering her friend with a wallpaper scraper will spend the rest of her life behind bars. Stephanie Nicole Erends, 26, was formally sentenced to life without the possibility of parole Wednesday, following an emotional statement delivered by the mother of 24-year-old victim Alicia Ernst. While trying to hold back tears and holding a large photograph of her daughter, Alicia Martens told Erends she will never forgive her for killing and mutilating the person she loved so much. “I wish you would have just cut your own throat and left Alicia alone,” she said. “As far as I’m concerned you’re like cancer Stephanie, like AIDS, you just spread ugliness wherever you go. You must die Stephanie. And I don’t care how, just die.” In December Erends was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder with special circumstances that included lying in wait and use of a deadly weapon. On March 8, 2008, she drove Ernst to a remote field off Old Walerga Road, got in the back seat, and surprised Ernst by slicing her neck and face while she sat buckled in the passenger’s seat. Erends then tried to cut off Ernst’s fingers to keep her from being identified, poured ammonia on her body and then covered her with trash after dumping her body nearby. During the trial, Erends admitted to slashing Ernst’s throat, but claimed it was a heat of passion killing that resulted from a scuffle in the vehicle. Erends said the women had been at odds following an incident in which Ernst humiliated her in front of Ernst’s boyfriend. The jury didn’t buy her testimony, however, and found her guilty of lying in wait. Following the statement by Ernst’s mother, Erends’ grandmother Janet Cross addressed the court in an aggressive tone that drew several gasps from Ernst’s family members. “It could’ve been the other way around as far as I’m concerned,” Cross said. “The drugs did this. If they hadn’t been doing drugs, this would’ve never happened.” Cross then expressed frustration that the jury was not able to hear how her granddaughter made the Dean’s List prior to the murder. Erends’ mother Karen also spoke briefly, and like Cross, claimed her daughter did not plan the murder. She spoke with reporters after the hearing. “This just goes to show how things can happen,” she said. “I feel sad for the other family, but we both lost our daughters. One’s dead and one’s still dying inside.” Another confrontational moment during the hearing was when Erends told prosecutor Garen Horst to “shut up” while he was detailing the horrid crime prior to sentencing. Judge Colleen Nichols scolded the convicted killer and she stayed silent thereafter. Erends will now be transported to a state correctional facility to begin her life sentence.