Roommate of Ex-Playboy Model, Man Accused of Killing Salinas Psychiatrist Will Take Plea Deal
A former roommate is taking a plea deal after cooperating with authorities in the prosecution of a former magazine model and the model’s boyfriend on murder and conspiracy charges in the killing of a 71-year-old California psychiatrist in Las Vegas, the woman’s attorney said Monday.
Diana Nicole Pena is “not as culpable” in the March death of Dr. Thomas Burchard as former Playboy Italia and Maxim model Kelsey Nichole Turner and Jon Logan Kennison, Pena’s attorney, Jess Matsuda, said outside court.
Police say Burchard, who lived in Salinas, California, had an intimate relationship with Turner and paid rent on a Las Vegas home where Turner, Kennison and Pena lived.
Turner and Kennison are accused of bludgeoning Burchard and leaving his corpse in the trunk of Turner’s Mercedes Benz on a desert road between Las Vegas and Lake Mead.
Police found blood, footprints, cleaning supplies and items bearing Kennison’s name in the house and garage, and blue and white bath towels in the home that matched a towel found with Burchard’s body March 7.
Pena, 30, a former Las Vegas Strip bartender, remains in custody on murder and conspiracy charges. But Matsuda said she “had nothing to do with the murder” and had spoken with police and prosecutors since surrendering for arrest April 13.
Matsuda and prosecutor Pamela Weckerly declined to say what lesser crime or crimes Pena will admit to when she appears in court on Thursday, or whether Pena will testify at trial against Turner and Kennison.
Neither Matsuda nor Weckerly would say if Pena testified before a grand jury that handed up murder and conspiracy charges last week against Turner and Kennison, who was released from prison in January 2018 after a felony cocaine distribution sentence.
However, both the defense attorney and the prosecutor noted that Pena was not indicted.
A grand jury transcript is not yet part of the court record.
Defense attorneys Brian Smith for Turner and Joseph Abood for Kennison said they’ll plead not guilty.
Turner, 26, was arrested March 21 in Stockton, California.
Kennison, 27, was arrested April 17 in Las Vegas.
They remain jailed without bail pending their arraignment June 11 in state court in Las Vegas.