November 23, 2020

Hearing set for woman convicted of torturing, killing her two stepchildren

An Alabama judge has scheduled a hearing Nov. 17 for a woman who was sentenced to death for torturing and killing her two stepchildren.

Mobile County Circuit Judge Rick Stout set the date Wednesday after lawyers for Heather Leavell Keaton tried to convince him to hold an entirely new sentencing hearing for the woman, WPMI-TV reported.

The 2015 death sentence of Keaton was overturned by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals Tuesday.

Heather Leavell-Keaton was sentenced to die by a Mobile County jury after being convicted, along with her common-law husband John DeBlase, of torturing and killing his two children, four-year-old Natalie and three-year-old Chase, in 2010.

According to prosecutors, Natalie was choked to death in March 2010 after being duct-taped and placed in a suitcase which was set in a closet for 12 hours. Her body was later dumped in a wooded area near Citronelle.

Chase was choked to death in June 2010 when he was taped to a broom handle and left in the corner of the couple’s bedroom overnight. His body was found in the woods outside Vancleave, Miss.

Leavell-Keaton will be headed back to court later this month after her sentence was overturned. She will face a hearing Oct. 13 in Mobile County Circuit Court where she will be resentenced for her 2015 capital murder conviction.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals Tuesday ruled that Leavell-Keaton did not have a chance to address the court prior to her sentencing back in 2015. The court said that Leavell-Keaton should be allowed to speak on Oct. 13 in order for the court to take into consideration anything she may say. Afterward, the court will sentence her to either death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, the court ruled.