Arkansas farmer going to prison for life for raping and murdering 25-year-old woman

An Arkansas farmer accused of raping and murdering a 25-year-old woman is going to prison for life without the possibility of parole.

Quake Lewellyn will avoid the death penalty after pleading guilty Friday to the brutal slaying of Sydney Sutherland, Fox affiliate KLRT-TV reported. He will never be eligible for parole.

Supporters of Sutherland’s family packed a Newport courtroom. The trial had moved there after a judge ruled the case had gotten too much coverage to be heard in Jackson County. 

Sutherland, a nurse, was jogging on Jackson County Road 41 on Aug. 19, 2020 when she was attacked. Lewellyn told police he was driving when he saw her. He said he turned his truck around after driving past her, but could no longer see her, which he attributed to dust from the gravel road.

Lewellyn said he thought he had hit Sutherland with his truck. He claimed he thought she was dead before taking her body to a rice field where he dug a hole, took off her clothes “and tried messing with her a bit.”

Quake Lewellyn
Quake Lewellyn was sentenced to life in prison.

Police questioned Lewellyn when they determined he had been near the scene where she was last seen, and he allegedly confessed when Sutherland’s body was found two days later, KRLT-TV reported last year.

“Lewellyn then stated that he took off her shorts and raped Sutherland, then buried her at that location,” the report said.

In a victim impact statement, Sutherland’s mother, Maggy Sutherland, said: “She was not yours to take.”

“Satan is real,” she said. “The hands you hugged me with are the same hands you killed her with.”

Maggy Sutherland spoke about her daughter in an interview last year, calling Sydney her “best friend” and the “light of our family’s lives.”