Chaz Zachery Stephens is expected to enter a “guilty” plea to the charge of second-degree murder when he appears in Barton County District Court next week.
The 26-year-old Hoisington man had been charged with first-degree murder, child abuse and drug charges in connection to the death of 2-year-old Iviona Marae May Lewis in 2018.
Paperwork for a plea bargain was signed Wednesday by defense attorney Paul Oller and Assistant Attorney General Lyndzie Carter.
According to the document on file at the Barton County Courthouse, Stephens will waive his right to a jury trial and change his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty” of the amended charge. All other charges will be dropped.
The document indicates that attorneys expect Stephens could receive a sentence of 21 years in prison.
Stephens was scheduled for a jury trial in May. During a pretrial hearing in January, Carter presented 12 pieces of evidence, including interviews and a statement Stephens reportedly wrote and signed as “an apology letter” to the girl known as Ivy, who was reported missing from her Hoisington home on Tuesday, March 20, 2018.
Stephens was the boyfriend of Iviona Lewis’s mother and was at her home in Hoisington when people showed up to search for the missing girl. It turned out that she had actually gone missing two days earlier, on March 18.
He later consented to lengthy interviews at the Kansas Bureau of Investigation office in Great Bend, where he wrote the “apology letter” and agreed to direct Hoisington Police Captain Josh Nickerson to a rural location where the remains of the child were found on March 21 in a black trash bag in a ditch.