Cochran sentenced to life

Published: May. 10, 2017 at 8:27 PM EDT
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After a long emotional nearly three-week trial, Wednesday Cochran was given the mandatory punishment for 1st degree murder. For the death and dismemberment of 53-year-old Chris Regan of Iron River, Kelly Cochran will spend the rest of her natural life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"I have no discretion here but to impose this sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole," Judge Richard J. Celello said. "Based on the testimony I heard, even without that mandate, that would probably have been my opinion."

"She respects the jury's verdict, but certainly disagrees with it," defense attorney Michael Scholke said. "She told her version of events, on the record; you all were there at the trial when she testified...I'm sure she is disappointed that we're here today...I'm sure she is saddened that we're here today," Scholke continued. "She's remorseful, as well, that we're here today; it's a very sad day."

"This case actually changed my view about mandatory life without parole as a sentence," prosecuting attorney Melissa Powell said to Judge Celello in court. "I no longer believe it's form over substance. I believe that it's symbolic, that it stands for justice," Powell added. "It gives meaning to the months of waiting that this family experienced; it gives punishment for the shameful, horrific acts committed by Kelly Cochran and her husband; it recognizes the atrocities committed by Kelly Cochran and her husband when they butchered Chris Regan and threw him in the woods like a common sack of garbage; it finally, finally, lays rest to Chris Regan's soul and gives solace and comfort to his family."

Holding back tears, Powell told the court exactly who the man whose life was taken by Cochran really was. She made it clear that, although much of the attention has been fixated on Cochran, this case is really about the person victimized by her: Christopher Regan.

"What I say today will not influence the sentence, but I want you to know, and I want the public to know what type of man Chris Regan was, because not all of that came out during trial," Powell said. "All of the focus has been on Kelly Cochran, and her rights, and her experiences during the trial. This is about Chris Regan today, this is about the type of man he was and this is about justice for Chris Regan."

In court Wednesday morning, a crime victim's rights coordinator also read a statement written by the family of Chris Regan:

"Being exposed to the evil world of someone like Kelly Cochran is not something we, as a family, ever thought we'd experience, but we remain a strong family and will continue to heal and move forward.

"There is some solace in knowing that Kelly Cochran will never be able to inflict her murderous impulses on any other unsuspecting victims. Society will now be safe from Kelly Cochran. I will not waste time, putting pen to paper, directly addressing Kelly Cochran and the effect she has had on our family. We believe she has no remorse for what she has done, therefore, any attempt to explain to her what she most certainly will not understand, would fall on deaf ears.

"Our gratitude goes out to Laura Frizzo and Detective Jeremy Ogden for their vigilance in bringing Kelly Cochran to justice and all other law enforcement and special units involved in this case. Also, many thanks to the insightful jury in this case, who were wise enough to see through Kelly Cochran's claim that she was the victim in this case. This presentation of this case by Melissa Powell was also very much appreciated, as she was, beyond a reasonable doubt, able to prove what a true danger Kelly Cochran is to society and ensuring no one else will fall victim to Kelly Cochran."

Cochran chose not to address the court but, according to her defense attorney, she prepared a written statement of her own for Regan's family.

"I had many discussions with Chris Regan's boys, and they did not desire to even see her one final time, let alone speak to her," lead investigator on the case Laura Frizzo said. "The family had planned to be here for the sentencing today but had decided that it was too painful to see her and...they didn't want to see her again, they just wanted to move on and put it behind them," Frizzo added. "So, for them, I'm happy that this is over for them, although they'll never forget; it'll be with them forever."

While the family of Chris Regan was not present at the sentencing, a few jurors who helped put the murderer behind bars were.

"It was a very emotional trial for all of us. There were a lot of details that were really hard for us to hear...I mean, this is stuff that you only see on TV and, you know, it became reality for us," juror Sherrie McFarland said. "It was hard to sleep at night it...I'm still very emotional about it," McFarland added. "We were all on on the same page about her guilt, it was just the degree of guilt...what I said in the jury room was that all the stars had to have been in alignment for it not to be the plausibility."

Cochran was found guilty on all five counts against her in the killing and mutilation of 53-year-old Regan back in February, with the harshest charge being aiding and abetting first degree murder. And officials in Indiana are also looking for justice in the death of Cochran's now-deceased husband Jason Cochran.

"Obviously, we're all very pleased with the jury's verdict and very pleased with the sentence handed down by the judge today," Detective Jeremy Ogden of the Hobart, Indiana Police Department said. "We all feel it's very appropriate, and we're moving on to the next part of the chapter."

"I don't know," Scholke said when asked whether Kelly Cochran did, in fact, kill Jason. "I have no comment on that; that's for a jury in Indiana to decide."

With the sentence of life in prison, this Michigan case is finally closed, but Hobart, Indiana detectives confirmed that, once Kelly Cochran is processed here, she will then face charges in Indiana, where the punishment there may be much harsher, as the state is authorized to impose the death penalty.