Great-nephew sentenced to life in prison for death of Victoria Kilbourne

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MIDLAND (WJRT) - (05/16/19) - The 74-year-old Midland woman found murdered in northern Michigan last summer is described as sassy, loving and giving.

Sadly, the family of Victoria Kilbourne believes her generosity lead to her death.

Thursday afternoon Kilbourne's great-nephew, Joel Wallace, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for her murder.

"Your criminal history shows, you know, frankly, you have no regard for anybody but yourself," said 42nd Circuit Court Judge Stephen Carras.

Carras laid out part of Wallace's lengthy criminal history as he addressed him in the Midland County courtroom, filled with family and friends of the beautician.

"You began your criminal history by molesting a five-year-old, then you attempted to rape a drunk 15-year-old, then you attempted to rape your brother's wife," Carras said, adding the information was part of Wallace's pre-sentence report.

Michelle Schmitzer, Kilbourne's niece, spoke on behalf of the family.

"She was a very generous and trusting person and would help out anyone she felt was in need," Schmitzer said. "Unfortunately her generosity and trust lead to her murder."

Previously in court it was revealed Kilbourne had been lending money to Wallace, but planned to stop.

Days after she was reported missing from her Midland apartment Kilbourne's body was found on Wallace's hunting property up north.

Schmitzer told the court much of the family was estranged from Kilbourne because of Wallace's past crimes. "He took away any opportunity for us to have a relationship with her again," she said.

And while Wallace is going to prison, Schmitzer said their worries are not over. "My daughters who are 21 and 23 began sleeping with loaded guns besides their beds and they still do."

Wallace listened to Carras, Schmitzer and Midland County Prosecutor J. Dee Brooks, then tried to have his say about his conviction and sentence.

"I object to this sentencing under federal rule 32. Baliff, please take me back," Wallace said. "Turn around," Carras said. "Or you can sit in the jury box if you'd like to."

In court Wallace made it clear that he plans to appeal.

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