By Linda Kor
A 16-year-old girl is facing charges of attempted first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder as authorities work to determine whether she was the instigator of a shooting that left a man paralyzed and sent five men to prison.
Desirae Westom, formerly of Show Low, was arrested in Washington Feb. 19 and extradited to Navajo County for her role in a shooting incident last year that left 20-year-old Cory Kimmel paralyzed from the neck down. Westom is being charged as an adult in the case.
The incident took place late in the evening on Jan. 10, 2015, outside of Kimmel’s home in Paradise Trailer Park in Show Low. According to court documents, an acquaintance of Kimmel’s, Lakota Tincher, lured Kimmel outside of the trailer by inviting him to go to a party with him and his friends, Kristopher Hyams, Juan LaClair, Samuel Baca and a 17-year-old boy, who had arrived at the residence in an early model Cadillac.
When Kimmel came out of the trailer, Baca pointed an AK-47 rifle at him and told him to get into the trunk of the vehicle. Kimmel refused and a struggle ensued. LaClair struck him over the head with a tire iron. Kimmel fell to the ground, but got up and ran back toward the trailer. Hyams fired at him with a small-caliber firearm, striking him in the neck. The men and the boy then fled the scene and were later picked up by law enforcement.
In seeking a motive for the crime, detectives uncovered numerous social media messages that reportedly took place between Westom, who was 15 at the time, and the men involved in the shooting, as well as messages between Westom and Kimmel.
In the messages dating back to December 2014, Westom talks about being pregnant with Hyams’ child, and complains to Hyams that Kimmel has been bothering her and won’t leave her alone.
On Jan. 8, Westom reportedly tells Hyams that Kimmel had been bothering her again and that because of him, her “belly hurt.” After that the discussions revolve around killing Kimmel. Westom warns Hyams not to get caught, and Hyams assures her by stating that he would have other people kill Kimmel for him.
On the evening of Jan. 10, just hours before the shooting took place, Westom reportedly sent a message to LaClair stating that Kimmel had come into her home and raped her. Westom sent messages to Hyams, Baca, Tincher and LaClair over the course of the evening talking about the pain she’s in as the men message her with their plans to take Kimmel into the woods to torture and kill him.
After reviewing the evidence, investigators now believe that Westom lied about being raped by Kimmel, and that she not only knew about the plans to kill him, but aided in the scheme by communicating about how to get a weapon.
Hyams, who was 18 at the time of the crime, is now serving 20 years in the Department of Corrections for attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault and two counts of child abuse. Tincher, who was 18, is serving 16 years for attempted first degree murder; LaClair, who was 20, is serving nine years for aggravated assault; Baca, who was 21, is serving 12 years for aggravated assault; and the 17-year-old boy was tried as a juvenile and is serving 2.5 years in the DOC.
Matthew Burnette, who was 18 at the time of the incident, provided a weapon that was in the vehicle at the time of the crime and was sentenced to five years probation for misconduct involving a weapon.
Westom is being held at the Navajo County Jail in Holbrook on a $500,000 bond.
By Linda Kor