Detroit Woman Pleads Guilty to Second-Degree Murder While Mentally Ill in Killing of Friend with Slow Cooker

In October of last year, 51-year-old Tewanna Sullivan and 66-year-old Cheryl Livy became involved in an argument over presidential politics. In the end, Sullivan allegedly killed Livy using a slow cooker; she allegedly had a blood alcohol level of .41, according to a news article at This level is more than five times the legal driving limit of .08 percent in Michigan.

The incident occurred in a HUD housing high-rise in Livonia. The two women were close friends, according to Sullivan’s godfather, Marvin Jones who said the two women were “tight.” Sullivan’s attorney said that his client suffered mental issues which are possibly related to surgeries she had undergone in 2009 for a brain aneurysm. Sullivan was initially charged with first-degree premeditated murder, however the prosecutor’s office agreed to dismiss the charge in exchange for Sullivan’s guilty plea. Had Sullivan gone to trial on first-degree premeditated murder charges and been convicted, she would have faced automatic life in prison.

A news article at Click on Detroit stated that Sullivan struck Livy in the head repeatedly with the slow cooker until the victim became unconscious. She was transported to the hospital and pronounced brain dead when her family decided to take her off life support.

By pleading guilty to second-degree murder while mentally ill, Sullivan will face 23 to 50 years in prison. She was found competent to stand trial in January after undergoing a mental exam.

Perhaps Sullivan did have mental issued related to a brain aneurism, or the fact that she had too much to drink played a role in the death of her friend – or perhaps it was a mixture of the two. Alcohol can make any situation become volatile, even between good friends.

Regardless of what happened, every individual has the right to defend him- or herself against criminal charges. Anyone who is arrested or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. While this is a sad and unfortunate situation, anyone who is facing murder charges must consult with an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer in order to reach the best possible result.

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