ST. LOUIS (AP) — The family of a former Saint Louis University volleyball player shot to death in an August 2012 daylight robbery while she was talking on her phone hopes her case will help build public pressure on carriers to support mandatory anti-theft software on smartphones.
Family members of the slain Megan Boken held a press conference Friday on the anti-theft measures after the sentencing of 19-year-old Keith Esters of Bel Ridge, Mo., in Boken's murder.
Esters was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder along with armed robbery and armed criminal action in the killing of the 23-year-old woman in St. Louis' Central West End.
Esters initially was charged with first-degree murder in the death of the Wheaton, Ill., woman, a 2011 SLU graduate who had returned to St. Louis for a job interview and a volleyball team reunion. He must serve at least 25 ½ years of the life sentence before being eligible for parole.
Prosecutors said Esters shot Boken in the neck and chest as she tried to enter her car talking on the phone to her mother. Boken's cellphone fell to the floor during a struggle. Esters' cousin, Johnathan Perkins of Overland, awaits trial early next year as the accused getaway driver.
Esters, a high school dropout, testified Friday that he wasn't specifically seeking Boken's phone but merely hoped to rob her.
Boken's mother, Lisa, said she felt like a part of her body and soul had been "ripped out." Boken's older and younger sister as well as friends and former teammates described a caring young woman with an infectious laugh who was training for her first triathlon when she was attacked.
Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer called Boken "an example for all of us."
"She had a beautiful life, and gave a lot to everyone," he told Boken's supporters. "Keep that in your heart."
At a news conference after the 50-minute hearing, Paul Boken said he and his oldest daughter have met with representatives from AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless, Sprint Corp and others in the wireless industry to urge the mandatory installation of "kill switches" that would make lost or stolen phones inoperable.