ST. JOSEPH — A Berrien County judge has denied a motion by Jeremy Cuellar to withdraw his guilty plea in the death of U.S. Army Sgt. Tyrone Hassel III.

Hassel was gunned down outside his father’s home in St. Joseph Township on New Year’s Eve 2018 while on leave for the holidays. Cuellar and Hassel’s wife, Kemia Hassel, who were also in the Army, had become lovers and, while deployed to South Korea, had planned the murder so they could be together and collect Hassel’s life insurance, according to testimony that led to Kemia Hassel’s conviction. Cuellar subsequently pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

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