‘A giant hole in my heart’: Virginia murder victim remembered as her killer sentenced to 48 years – Duluth News Tribune

VIRGINIA — Kristen Bicking was “beautiful” and “just radiant” as she spent a day kayaking on the lake at the family’s cabin in May 2021, her mother recalled.

The 32-year-old received calls from her ex-boyfriend Derek Edward Malevich that day, but she ignored them, Karen Bicking recalled. The mother didn’t know about the history of domestic violence in their relationship, but she knew her daughter was on her way to a better future.

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Derek Edward Malevich

“When I dropped her off, I was like, ‘You know, sometimes it’s just better to be alone,'” Karen Bicking recalled Monday in a Virginia courtroom. “That was my last statement to her.”

Little did she know then that Malevich would lure Kristen into his Virginia apartment one last time and end her life with a brutal attack.

“It left a huge hole in my heart,” Karen Bicking told a judge. “Hopefully it heals with time. I really do not know it.”

Judge Andrew Peterson granted the family’s motion for the maximum sentence and sentenced Malevich to just over 48 ½ years for Bicking’s murder.

With credit for time served and good behavior, he will serve just over 32 years in prison – about the same time the Bicking family spent with their loved one. It was a symbolic gesture that didn’t go unnoticed by St. Louis County District Attorney Chris Florey.

“Sentencing him less would reward the offender,” he told the court.

Malevich, 42, pleaded guilty on October 13 to a count of first-degree first-degree murder in the death of Bicking at his Virginia home on May 12, 2021.

Malevich told the court that he had difficulty remembering the full circumstances of the incident because he was impaired by methamphetamine, but he did not dispute the findings of an investigation conducted by the Virginia Police Department and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was carried out.

Lawyers suggested that Malevich lured Bicking to the scene just hours after investigators with the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force executed a warrant at his home and seized about 120 grams of meth.

Malevich said he has been in an uninterrupted relationship with Bicking for about two years and already faces pending charges of domestic assault following an incident in September 2020 in which he reportedly pushed, punched and choked the same victim.

Malevich agreed that there was an aggravating factor in the case: Bicking was treated with “particular cruelty,” warranting a maximum statutory sentence of 40 years on the manslaughter charge. He also pleaded guilty to an aggravated charge of first-degree witness tampering due to the state’s inability to advance the earlier domestic assault case as a result of Bicking’s murder.

Malevich repeatedly apologized in a brief statement before receiving his verdict on Monday.

“I am very sorry for the Bicking family,” he said. “There is nothing I can say. I wish we could have her back. This is devastating.”

But testimonies from three family members resonated with judges, prosecutors and even the defense.

“My twin sister, Kristen, was on her way to being healthy and sober, and most importantly, really happy,” said Kara Renny. “She loved my daughter so much. She was such a great aunt. We will have pictures and memories, but my daughter will not meet my sister.”

Her brother Derek Bicking added: “This tragedy has drastically impacted my life. Please consider the maximum sentence for Derek so my family and I can be closed.”

Family members said Bicking has had a “tough life” but has always maintained a warm personality and is on a better path in life after undergoing treatment.

“She really was a beautiful person,” Renny said. “She would help anyone. She saw the best in everyone and I will do that. I don’t think Derek is evil. I think the drugs made him evil. However, he must be held accountable.”

Defense attorney Bruce Williams said his client took responsibility. He asked for a slightly shorter sentence – about 46 years – noting that even then Malevich would not get out of prison until he was 74 years old.

“If anyone could go back in time and trade their life for Kristi, Derek Malevich would be first in line,” Williams said.

However, Florey noted that Malevich has already received clemency in the form of the dismissal of a charge of first-degree first degree murder under the terms of the plea agreement. Had he been convicted of that offense, he would have faced life imprisonment without parole.

He noted that Malevich had a history of domestic violence with two girlfriends, tried to hide evidence, lied to investigators about the circumstances surrounding the murder and even suggested that he should be “rewarded” for his actions.

“He was a victim in his own eyes,” the prosecutor said.

Events began at approximately 3:40 p.m. on May 11, 2021, when Task Force investigators searched Malevich’s home at 104 Fifth St. S. He was taken to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office and issued a statement speculating that “it must have been my ex-girlfriend who ratted me out,” attorneys said.

Copies of text messages were provided to the court showing Malevich contacted Bicking just after 7pm, suggesting he needed to speak to her urgently and saying it was “the most important thing in the world right now”. Home security footage showed Malevich and Bicking entering the apartment together, lawyers said, and no one else was present that evening.

Florey said a home security camera at Malevich’s apartment caught him making several stabbing motions at the victim. He pointed out that Malevich had indeed left the apartment at some point, returned, and later resumed the stabbing movements.

Malevich called 911 at 2:19 am on May 12 and explained that he had just gotten home and was attacked by an intruder, whom he stabbed in self-defense before realizing it was Bicking. Malevich fled the scene before the police arrived; He was later arrested at a nearby hotel. Surveillance footage also showed him throwing Bicking’s phone in a dumpster.

A coroner concluded that Bicking was stabbed five times in the back, one piercing a lung. She also had severe head trauma from what appears to have been bludgeoned with a bloodied barbell found in the apartment. Her injuries were severe enough, lawyers said, that her body had to be identified from her tattoos.

Malevich filed a Norgaard plea, saying his drug impairment prevented him from fully testifying the circumstances, but conceded there was enough evidence for a jury to convict him of the charges. He waived the right to plead poisoning or self-defense but avoided the possibility of a first-degree murder charge.

Malevich was already serving a 65-month sentence at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Rush City after pleading guilty in March to a first-degree controlled substance charge resulting from the May 11 search. However, that term runs concurrently with the verdict handed down on Monday.

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