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Illinois woman guilty of murder in robbery plot with friends

By Dawn Reiss

JOLIET Ill. (Reuters) - An Illinois woman who helped lure two men to a drinking session to rob them for money for cigarettes, gasoline and cocaine, was found guilty on Friday of six counts of first degree murder after her friends allegedly strangled the two men.

Will County Judge Gerald Kinney said Bethany McKee, 20, was guilty even though she did not physically participate in the killings, because she was aware of what was happening and did nothing to stop it.

Terrance Rankins and Eric Glover, both 22, were robbed and strangled in a duplex in Joliet - a town outside Chicago - in January 2013.

During a six-day bench trial - before a judge instead of a jury - prosecutors said McKee and three of her friends, Adam Landerman, 21, Alisa Massaro, 20, and Joshua Miner, 26, plotted to rob and kill the two men.

Prosecutors said McKee was the one who suggested calling Rankins and inviting him over to drink because she believed he was usually carrying cash.

After the murder McKee bought cigarettes and gasoline with some of the cash from the robbery, failed to report it to police and discussed with her friends how to dispose of the bodies, the judge noted in his ruling.

"There can be no relief. I can't ever see my brother again and she still gets to see her parents. But at least it's something," said Drakkar Williams, 20, Rankins' brother.

One of the key witnesses in the trial was McKee's former friend Massaro, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to lesser charges of robbery and concealing a homicide. Massaro told the court that Miner gave her and McKee a signal to leave the room before the two victims were killed.

McKee was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder for the intent to cause great bodily harm to Glover and Rankins, two counts of first degree murder for her association with the victims being strangled, and two counts of first degree murder while committing a forcible felony for robbing the two men.

Judge Kinney scheduled sentencing for Oct. 16. McKee could get a life sentence.

Miner and Landerman will be tried separately.

(Reporting by Dawn Reiss; Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Eric Beech)

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