Former UMKC student pleads guilty to cyberstalking instructor
08/14/2014 6:36 PM
08/15/2014 7:30 AM
A former Kansas City university student pleaded guilty Thursday to cyberstalking, admitting that she used email to threaten an instructor during a harassment campaign last year.
Kenna Haight, 27, showered more than 100 threatening emails on her University of Missouri-Kansas City instructor late last year, threatening mutilation, torture and murder.
Although she recently was found competent to stand trial, Haight acknowledged to U.S. District Judge Greg Kays that she has suffered from mental health issues for much of her adult life.
At sentencing, Haight could face up to five years in prison, a prosecutor said.
On Oct. 1, 2013, Haight sent an email to the instructor that said “homicidal fantasies” about the educator were keeping her up at night. The following day, she complained that changes the instructor had made in her class schedule had ruined her life.
“My life went down the drain when you changed your schedule and I changed my schedule to take your … exam,” her email said, according to court records.
Haight persisted in her email threats even after being served with an order of protection issued by a Clay County court and hearing orders from police and an FBI agent to stop.
The instructor was not identified in court records. But while in custody, Haight wrote two letters to local media outlets identifying the instructor. Reporters then contacted the victim of Haight’s harassment.
Those letters factored into a federal judge’s decision to keep Haight in jail before trial.
On Thursday, Haight appeared composed during her plea hearing, clearly answering the judge’s questions. She appeared shaken only at one point, when Kays informed her that by pleading guilty to a felony she would lose her right to vote.
“For the rest of my life?” she asked.
Kays explained that states set their own standards for voting eligibility, so getting it back one day might be possible.
“But it’s my job to give you the worst case scenario,” Kays explained.
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