Man Gets 100 Years for Arlee Slaying

By Beacon Staff

POLSON – A man who pleaded guilty to murdering an 18-year-old woman and dumping her body on a road near Arlee was sentenced Friday to 100 years in prison.

Kelly Birmingham, 19, was accused of beating and strangling Tasheena Craft at the home of Craft’s mother on May 29.

Craft had been living with her brother, Shonto Pete, in Spokane, Wash. She was in Arlee visiting her Marine boyfriend, who was on leave from Iraq, when she was killed.

Investigators said Birmingham told them Craft had said his father, Wayne Stanfield, was not a good person. Stanfield had died in a motorcycle crash near Missoula two days earlier.

Birmingham initially pleaded not guilty to several charges stemming from Craft’s slaying, but changed his plea in December as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

Craft’s family, friends and teachers said Birmingham deserved life in prison without the possibility of parole, arguing that he could be released on parole by the age of 44.

Birmingham also was sentenced Friday to two ten year prison terms for tampering with evidence and tampering with a witness.

He had pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence by moving Craft’s body and cleaning up blood and to trying to get a potential witness to keep quiet about seeing Birmingham drag Craft’s body out of her sister’s house.