Liz Kellar

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July 16, 2013
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Sentencing in murder set for Thursday

Sentencing for Lee Konnerth, who pleaded no contest to killing his pregnant girlfriend, Grass Valley resident Sarah Lynn Burr, has been rescheduled to Thursday in Auburn.

Konnerth, 35 at the time of the shooting at his Weimar home May 15, 2011, also admitted to the use of a firearm in committing the homicides and to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

By taking a plea agreement, Konnerth will avoid the possibility of being convicted on two counts of first-degree murder, which would have meant life without parole.

His likely sentence will be 19 years and eight months to life in prison, and he could be eligible for parole in about 17 years.

Burr, 29, had been staying off and on at the Konnerth home and on the night of the shooting, she was there with her two daughters.

The longtime Grass Valley resident graduated from Nevada Union in 1999 and had been employed at Golden Empire Convalescent Hospital since 2000. Burr and Konnerth began dating in July 2010.

The sentencing was originally set for Wednesday but now has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday in Department 4 of the historic courthouse in Auburn.

Preliminary hearing in 1970 murder case set

The preliminary hearing into the evidence against Nevada County homicide suspect Patricia Howell Thomas has been set for Aug. 12 in Placer County.

Thomas, 66, was arrested in January 2012 and charged with murder in the May 25, 1970, death of her 4-year-old daughter, Cindy. The girl’s death was initially reported as a bathtub drowning to Auburn Police; information obtained from Thomas’ elder daughter, Wendy Howell Peck, initiated the reopening of the investigation.

Peck told investigators she walked into the bathroom and saw her mother holding Cindy’s legs in the air in the tub. In a conversation that was being secretly recorded by investigators, Thomas allegedly told Peck that she “bumped Cindy’s head on the faucet and that Cindy became unconscious, and she left her there to drown.”

Thomas remains on home confinement.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4229.

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The Union Updated Jul 16, 2013 12:02AM Published Jul 18, 2013 11:21AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.