Pair who killed Payette Head Start teacher sent to prison

March 28, 2014 

Michael J. Culley, 26, and Jonathon Hernandez, 19, were each sentenced Thursday to life in prison with a minimum sentence of 45 years, following two days of hearings before Third District Payette County Judge Thomas J. Ryan.

Elizabeth Baune, 45, was stabbed 29 times in the head and chest in her home on Nov. 7, 2012.

Baune had allowed Culley, her second-cousin, to live with her while he worked to combat a drug addiction.

Culley and Hernandez, whom Baune did not know, went to Baune's home to steal items they could sell to buy methamphetamine, Payette County Prosecutor Anne-Marie Kelso said.

Baune died in a different part of the house than where the majority of the wounds were inflicted, indicating that Baune did not die right away and suffered, Kelso said. She also had defensive wounds to her hands.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Barbara Richart told Ryan that Hernandez had caused problems in the Payette County Jail, including one incident where he punched a corrections officer.

Eight of Baune's relatives and a friend testified at the sentencing hearing. Her parents, children, fiance, sisters and daughter-in-law told Ryan she was a kind and caring person. They told stories, Kelso said, of how she would use her own money to pay for Head Start supplies and extra food to send home with needy children.

Defense attorneys Matt Roker and Virginia Bond told Ryan that their clients had endured tragic childhoods.

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