Tutor's rest stop murder trial delayed again

There has been yet another delay of the jury trial of the second of the two defendants in the 2008 “rest stop murder” case — this time caused, in part, by an update to her charges. Dana Tutor, 40, was charged in 2010 as the accomplice of John Hughes, who on Sept. 8, 2008 used Tutor to lure truck driver Valentin G. Kirilchuk into a restroom at the rest stop between Camden Point and Dearborn, Mo. where he then robbed and killed him. Hughes pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, first-degree robbery and armed criminal action in 2010 and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Dana Tutor

Once set for an October start, Tutor’s jury trial might be further delayed. A hearing was scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 3 to upgrade one of her charges based on the recent findings of a grand jury investigation.

Tutor now faces a charge of first degree robbery, a change from her original second degree robbery charge, in addition to the count of second-degree murder. If convicted of both charges, she faces up to life in prison.

Extradited from a Mississippi jail in 2009 for the Platte County murder charge, Tutor continues to be held at the Platte County Detention Center in lieu of a $1 million cash-only bond. She is the county’s longest-incarcerated inmate.

Tutor refused a plea deal last year and a five-day jury trial was set for June. Anthony Cardarella, her attorney, requested the trial be delayed until September despite the protests of the Platte County Prosecutor’s Office, and judge Thomas Fincham granted the request, although the trial was later moved to October.

During the plea and sentencing hearing, Hughes said Tutor, his girlfriend and alleged accomplice, went to the cab of Kirilchuk’s truck and told him she needed money. Kirilchuk followed Tutor into the rest area’s main building, and as he entered, Hughes forced Kirilchuk into the men’s restroom at gunpoint.

Hughes tried to rob Kirilchuk, who fought back. Hughes then shot Kirilchuk in the head one time at close range with a 9mm handgun, killing him. Hughes took a wallet containing cash and a cellular phone from Kirilchuk. Hughes, Tutor and three passengers then left the area in a white 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer.

Hughes was later arrested in York County, Neb. for driving while intoxicated.

During the arrest, authorities found a 9mm handgun, which was linked by DNA to the murder of Kirilchuk. The handgun had been stolen in late August 2008, when Hughes robbed and stabbed to death David Durben in Zanesville, Ohio. Hughes is currently serving a life sentence in Ohio for those crimes.