MEADVILLE, Pa. -- Nichole "Jade" Olmstead bragged about the torture and murder of 20-year-old Brandy Stevens-Rosine, an Ohio college student who was beaten and buried alive in a shallow grave in rural Pennsylvania.
Those and other details were released on Halloween, following a surprise decision by 20-year-old Olmstead, who had been fighting a homicide charge, to plead guilty to first-degree murder.
"Olmstead had a journal," Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz told The Huffington Post on Monday. "She talked about the fact that using a shovel [to hit Stevens-Rosine in the head] was perfect -- that she could see [Stevens-Rosine's] skull and brains mixed in the dirt."
Excerpts from the diary were read into the court record on Thursday.
In changing her plea, Olmstead admitted her role in the 2012 slaying of Stevens-Rosine. She also expressed remorse for her crime.
"[I am] truly and deeply sorry for what happened. Brandy did not deserve what happened to her," Olmstead said in court.
Crawford County Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark Stevens, no relation to the murder victim, sentenced Olmstead, without delay, to life in prison without parole.
Stevens-Rosine's close friend, Krysti Horvat, told HuffPost she is happy with Olmstead's guilty plea.
"I'm glad she pleaded guilty and allowed Brandy's family the slightest of relief to not have to go to trial twice ... It's not easy for me to give her credit for that, but her conscious [sic] must have come back to decide to plead guilty before trial ... This might be the first sign of human behavior she's exhibited since the planning of the senseless murder," Horvat said.
Olmstead's attorney, John Knorr, told HuffPost his client changed her plea because she wanted to spare the victim's family any additional suffering.
"She didn't want to make Brandy's parents go through the trial. There's a lot of gory details that would have been very unpleasant, including autopsy photographs. She [also] recognized this [crime] has all of the elements of first-degree murder," Knorr said.
Knorr also said that with her plea, Olmstead's life sentence is not entirely written in stone.
"The present state of the law in Pennsylvania is that she is not permitted to have parole. However, the one thing we were able to accomplish is that we agreed that if there ever were a change in the law, she would have the benefit of being able to petition the court for a sentencing hearing, at which she could present mitigating factors that might result in something less than a life sentence," Knorr said.
Olmstead and her former lover, Ashley Marie Barber, both 20 years old, were charged last year with one count each of criminal homicide, conspiracy to commit criminal homicide, and tampering with physical evidence in the death of Stevens-Rosine.
The two female defendants were lovers and Stevens-Rosine had once dated Olmstead, according to Horvat.
A popular sociology student at Youngstown State University, Stevens-Rosine left her home in Beaver Township, Ohio, on the morning of May 17, 2012, for an impromptu meeting with Olmstead. Despite the breakup, the two remained in regular contact.
The reason for Stevens-Rosine's get-together with her old flame remains unclear. According to Schultz, the young woman was lured by Barber and Olmstead for a single purpose.
"These two defendants ... [had] plans to kill her once she was here," Schultz said.
Whatever the case may be, it is known that Stevens-Rosine drove 75 miles northeast, across the state line and into Pennsylvania to a home on Drake Hill Road in Wayne Township, Crawford County, that is owned by Barber's parents. Barber and Olmstead had been living together at the address.
Two days later, Stevens-Rosine's family reported her missing. On May 23, 2012, authorities found her partially decomposed remains in a shallow grave a few hundred yards from the residence where Barber and Olmstead were staying.
Crawford County Coroner Scott Schell performed the autopsy and found Stevens-Rosine had multiple injuries, from multiple objects, to a large percentage of her body.
At a preliminary hearing in July 2012, Pennsylvania State Police trooper Eric Mallory testified Olmstead and Barber had savagely attacked Stevens-Rosine.
Mallory alleged Olmstead said she hit Stevens-Rosine four or five times in the head, and could see Stevens-Rosine's brain protruding from the gaping wounds. According to Mallory, Barber hurt herself head-butting Stevens-Rosine, and then repeatedly pounded the victim's head against a stump.
According to Mallory, the women said they rolled the victim into a shallow grave they dug prior to the assault. When they found Stevens-Rosine still breathing, the trooper said, they allegedly smashed her face with a large rock and poured water into her nose and mouth to drown her.
The autopsy report indicates Stevens-Rosine suffered blunt force trauma, a skull fracture and 15 lacerations to the scalp. Her death, according to Erie County forensic pathologist Eric Vey, was caused by suffocation from dirt in her airway. In court, Schultz said Stevens-Rosine had been buried alive.
Mallory explained the evidence-tampering charge during the preliminary hearing, saying the defendants buried a hat, a blood-soaked sweatshirt and the bloody rock used to smash Stevens-Rosine in the face. The hat, Mallory said, had been used, "to pick up what [Barber] referred to as meat or brains."
Olmstead was scheduled to face trial on Nov. 12. However, given her guilty plea, the district attorney's office withdrew all the other charges.
PHOTOS FROM THE CASE: (Article Continues Below)
It remains unclear how Olmstead's guilty plea will impact Barber’s case. Contacted by HuffPost on Monday, her attorney, Robert Draudt, said he had no information to share.
"I'm going to say no comment at this time because I don't know what to tell you. I have to meet with my client," Draudt said.
Both Draudt and Schultz said a date for the start of Barber's trial is unclear. She was supposed to be tried directly after Olmstead. Schultz said it is possible the trial could now be pushed back to early next year.
While a trial date remains up in the air, Knorr did make it clear that Olmstead and Barber are no longer a couple.
"They sure are not," he said. "In fact ... they have been, since they were arrested about 18 months ago, kept separated because there is a lot of antagonism between the two of them."
Asked about the content of Olmstead's May 18, 2012, journal entry – the entry referenced during her sentencing hearing Thursday -- Knorr declined to discuss it.
"It's so heinous I'd rather not repeat it," the veteran defense attorney said. "It certainly indicated, as of that day, a lack of remorse."
Schultz has not released transcripts of the journal to the media, citing it as possible evidence in Barber's trial. However, he did read excerpts from it for HuffPost on Monday.
Olmstead, the prosecutor said, went into great detail in her journal about the slaying, including a description of how Stevens-Rosine sounded while drowning in her own blood. She also recounted how Barber allegedly held Stevens-Rosine down.
"[She wrote that the crime] is perfect," said Schultz. "She said, 'I don't believe we will ever get caught.' She [also] asks a question at the end: 'Do I feel guilty?' [To which she answered], 'No, not an ounce. I am proud.'"