Tewana Sullivan (Booking photo)

Tewana Sullivan (Booking photo)

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A Detroit woman accused of killing a friend with a slow cooker during a political dispute while very drunk pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Thursday in a deal with prosecutors.

Tewana Sullivan was awaiting trial next week on a first-degree murder charge. She pleaded guilty but mentally ill with an understanding that she will get 23 to 50 years in prison. First-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

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Wayne County Circuit Judge Michael Hathaway set her sentencing for June 15. The mental illness plea doesn’t affect the prison term itself but provides for prison officials to evaluate her mental health and treat her as needed.

The 51-year-old woman told the judge Thursday that she and her 66-year-old friend, Cheryl Livy, came to blows at Livy’s Livonia apartment Oct. 22.

“I got into an argument with her,” Sullivan said. “I tried to leave but she wouldn’t let me leave. We were hitting each other. … I was a little bit harder at hitting her than she was at hitting me. I hit her with a Crock-Pot … in her head and all over.” Livy was armed with a smaller cooking pot, Sullivan said.

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Sullivan was arrested after officers found Livy severely beaten and unconscious, with the power cord of the slow cooker wrapped around her neck. A police officer said he found Sullivan sobbing near her injured friend and saying she was “sorry” she “did it.” Livy was rushed to a local hospital where she died three days later.

According to defense lawyer John McWilliams, Sullivan’s blood-alcohol level was 0.41 percent. That’s more than five times the 0.08 percent level for drunken driving in Michigan.

McWilliams has said that a dispute over presidential politics triggered the fight but has declined to elaborate. The cause of the fight didn’t come up in court Thursday.

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