A 21-year-old woman pleaded guilty Monday to a murder charge in the Aug. 11, 2017 death of Brandon Hubert. Karalyn Cross will be sentenced at a later date after a pre-sentence report is completed in the case.
Hubert was shot and killed as he worked as a desk clerk at the Quality Suites on U.S. Highway 75 in 2017. Reginald Campbell pleaded guilty in February to shooting and killing Hubert. Campbell was sentenced to life without parole in the case.
Under the terms of the plea agreement discussed Monday in the 15th state District Court before Judge Jim Fallon, Cross could be sentenced to no more than 55 years in prison. She is going to Fallon for punishment hoping, as Assistant Grayson County District Attorney Kerye Ashmore put it, to beat that maximum and get a lesser sentence. As part of the plea, the state dismissed the capital murder in the course of a felony charge and aggravated robbery charge that she faced in the case.
Even so, it is likely that the young woman could spend the next 20 years or more in prison for driving the getaway car in the robbery that turned into a murder as well as for being the person who went into the hotel to see if it would be a good place to rob.
Ashmore explained the Texas law of parties to Cross as she stood next to her attorney, John Hunter Smith, on Monday. Under that law, Cross could be held to the same level of criminal responsibility as the person who shot Hubert because Cross knew that Campbell had a gun and was going into the hotel to commit a felony by robbing it. The law presumes that she should have known that someone could have been seriously hurt or killed during that felony.
Cross said she had met Campbell on a dating website and had been seeing him for a few months when the robbery took place. As Ashmore questioned Campbell, she spelled out for the judge, and members of Hubert’s family who were in the courtroom, roughly what happened on the night that Hubert died. She said she, Campbell and the other woman charged in Hubert’s death, Nikeya Grant, were out with some other people when they stopped at a strip club just across the Oklahoma border. From there, Cross said, she, Campbell and Grant made their way to Choctaw Casino where Campbell and Cross gambled for about an hour. When they left, Cross said, they returned to Campbell’s hotel room where he began to discuss a plan to rob hotels to get money to go back to South Carolina.
Ashmore asked Cross whether Campbell had been working while he had been in Texas and she said he had. Cross said she didn’t know what he had done with the money he made from his job on a road work crew. She said they went to a hotel in Denison where she got out and went inside to see whether it would be a good place to rob. She came back to the car, she said, and told Campbell the clerk at that hotel was behind a glass wall. They left and Cross said Campbell told her how to get to the Quality Suites in Sherman.
Cross testified that she spoke to Hubert and asked him how much a room cost and he told her that they were booked up. She went back out to the car and Campbell went in. Cross said while he was inside, she got back in the driver’s seat of her car and waited on him to come back out. When he got back to the car, she said, Campbell told her that he shot the clerk in the arm. When she asked him why, Cross said he replied, “That’s how it is.”
Cross said she didn’t get any of the money from the robbery and found out from the discovery in the case that Campbell only got $300 from the robbery. She admitted that she ended up spending the night with Campbell at his hotel room that night and had sex with him even knowing that he had shot someone earlier in the evening.
When Ashmore asked her why, the young woman’s voice rose to the point of being almost unintelligible as she said something that sounded like “I don’t know why.”
Cross said she and Grant drove Campbell to Dallas the next day, where he caught a bus out of town. After her car and photos showed up on social media reports about the robbery, Cross said she eventually called the Sherman Police Department and spoke with Officer Brandon Hughes about the shooting.
“As her testimony showed, Karalyn Cross was an active participant in the aggravated robbery of Brandon Hubert,” Ashmore said in a written statement after the plea hearing. “She knew Reginald Campbell was armed with a handgun and drove him to two hotels for the purpose of robbing them. She went into both hotels to scout them to see if they were ripe for robbery and advised Campbell that Brandon Hubert was a good target. While she was not the person who pulled the trigger, Texas law provides that if people conspire to commit one felony and another felony is actually committed, everyone in the conspiracy is guilty of the felony actually committed, though having no intent that it be committed, if it is in furtherance of the conspiracy and one that should have been anticipated. She is, therefore, guilty of murder. Her plea agreement that her sentence can be as much as 55 years in prison reflects the seriousness of her actions, but she will be able to produce whatever mitigating evidence she believes there may be and then Judge Fallon will set her sentence somewhere between 5 and 55 years in prison.”
Cross’s attorney, Smith, did not immediately return a call Monday seeking comment on the case.
A sentencing date for Cross has been set for May 2 at 2:30 p.m. in the 15th state District Court.