Hempfield man gets life in prison for killing girlfriend during fight over spilled noodles
Keith Kruel had nothing to say in court Thursday as he was sentenced to serve life in prison for killing his live-in girlfriend as they fought over a bowl of spilled noodles.
Following a week-long jury trial in February, Kruel, 39, was convicted of first-degree murder for the Nov. 13, 2011, beating and stomping death of 40-year-old Tina Marie Ohler.
Westmoreland County Judge John Blahovec imposed the mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
During the trial, prosecutors said Ohler had been in a nine-year abusive relationship with Kruel.
On the night of the murder, they returned to their Hempfield home from a night of drinking in bars. The couple fought over a bowl of Ramen noodles that Ohler threw to the floor when Kruel refused to eat them, according to the prosecution.
Kruel first told police he found Ohler dead when he awoke the next morning, but he later confessed to slamming her head off a wall or door jamb, kicking her head “like a football” and stomping on her back, according to trial testimony.
The defense admitted that Kruel killed Ohler but argued that her death resulted from a reckless act and warranted conviction to a lesser offense, such as involuntary manslaughter.
In court on Thursday, Jennifer Gearhart, victim advocate for Westmoreland County, read a letter from Ohler's 13-year-old daughter, Courtney.
“My whole family's lives are shattered. Not a day goes by I don't think about her,” the girl wrote. “No one should be 13 and have to go through this. I miss her every day and every night. Just because he's serving time in prison doesn't take away the pain we feel.”
Kruel will appeal his conviction, said defense attorney L.A. Smith.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Project to tear down former Jeannette District Memorial Hospital on schedule, Excela says
- Norwin band director is finding lots of success in return to his alma mater
- Westmoreland County furloughs weights and measurements director
- Jeannette company’s miniature steam engines coveted for decades
- Hempfield leaders kill zoning request for townhomes
- Police gather in Ligonier for Perryopolis officer’s funeral
- Penn Township man who shot friend gets probation
- Mt. Pleasant man charged with unlawful restraint
- Plenty of ‘pain’ to share, as Westmoreland County budget OK’d with $8M in cuts
- Arbitration decides Westmoreland court workers’ pact
- United Way surplus funds benefit 9 nonprofits in Westmoreland County