The Journal Gazette
Friday, July 23, 2021 7:00 pm

Man sentenced to 60 years for stabbing death

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

David Lee Cortez Suel apologized Friday for killing his girlfriend, Crystal Holmes, a year ago, but her daughters weren't convinced.

Suel's attorney, Gregory Ridenour, said his client's abusive childhood could be partly to blame for the 52-year-old's lengthy criminal history in multiple states. Deputy prosecutor Tasha Lee said Suel racked up 16 misdemeanors and seven felonies in Illinois and Michigan and in Marion and Allen counties in Indiana and served various lengths of jail and prison time.

Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull sentenced Suel to 60 years in prison. The maximum sentence for murder in Indiana is 65 years. 

Holmes’ daughters, Cyntoria Holmes and Na’Quasha Holmes, disputed Suel’s claims of remorse during his sentencing hearing. Na’Quasha Holmes said Suel lied about their mother being in the hospital when she was bleeding to death from a stab wound in the apartment she shared with Suel. Now their children don’t have their grandmother. 

"I don’t have no one to go to (and say) I need you," Cyntoria Holmes said. "I know he cared about her, but he loved her? No. You don’t do that to someone you love." 

Cyntoria Holmes blamed his actions on jealousy.  On June 10, 2020, while Crystal Holmes attended a party at Baldwin Creek Apartments, Suel sent her countless text messages and called her numerous times asking where she was and what she was doing. 

In the early morning hours, video surveillance showed her returning from a party with her cellphone in hand and appearing fine, despite Suel’s claims she arrived at their apartment holding her chest and was the victim of a robbery, court documents said. 

Suel tried to cover up the stabbing by removing belongings from the apartment and cleaning up, court documents said.

He changed her clothes twice. But her blood had soaked through the carpet and padding into the wood floor and an area rug was used to cover it up, court records said. 

He called police at 9:44 a.m. She died at a hospital three hours later. Between 8:26 a.m. and when he called police, he repeatedly called someone named Marc 25 times and sent seven texts begging him to come take Holmes to the hospital, court documents said.

When a Fort Wayne officer responded, he found Holmes unable to speak. 

"I'm not a monster," Suel told the judge Friday. "I wasn't trying to weasel out of anything."

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