Kuhlman Sentenced To 20 Years

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Keven Deon Kuhlman was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the October 2001 murder of Susan Birchak.

Kuhlman had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced Feb. 4.

Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores said Kuhlman must serve 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.

"Susan's supporters made an impact in court. Justice was done," Flores said. "We had an excellent investigation by the Payson Police Department. Four officers testified for us."

Detective Matt Van Camp said, "The county attorney's office did a great job in getting the number of years they did. We had a good case and they presented it to get the sentence."

Van Camp said three of Kuhlman's earlier abuse victims came forward and testified.

"All three were strangled and almost killed in physical confrontations (with him)," Van Camp said.

He said in domestic violence investigations, the police department looks at the suspect's history and how he was dealt with in prior incidents.

"There is a possibility if Kuhlman had been dealt with differently, with harsher enforcement, maybe it could have stopped the homicide," Van Camp said.

He said if a suspect has had two domestic violence convictions in the past five years, the law allows a charge of aggravated domestic violence to be made in any future incidents.

"We do a lot of background checks (in domestic violence) ... to get the aggravated domestic violence charge," Van Camp said. "We did three last month. It takes a lot of time to research. Police departments should not relax on domestic violence enforcement."

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