Candi Royer pleads guilty in Augusta County court

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 1:56 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2023 at 7:02 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Candi Royer pleaded guilty to one charge of first-degree murder in the death Khaleesi Cuthriell in court Wednesday, Sept. 13.

Royer’s guilty plea waived her right to a trial, which was scheduled for Oct 16 - Oct 20. In the Commonwealth, first-degree murder has sentencing guidelines of 20 years in prison to life in prison.

The last time Royer and her legal team were in court, they were asking for a venue change to avoid jury bias in the trial. On her Sep 19 arraignment hearing, Royer unexpectedly pleaded guilty to a plea deal with the Commonwealth.

Royer was scheduled for an arraignment on several charges, including:

  • Child Abuse Serious Injury
  • Aggravated Murder
  • Concealing a Dead Body
  • Homicide

Those charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.

Travis Brown, Royer’s then-boyfriend, was found guilty of child abuse causing serious injury, aggravated murder, and felony homicide in August.

In Brown’s hearing, the commonwealth brought dozens of photos, videos and messages as evidence, implicating Brown in the abuse and ultimate death of the three-year-old.

Khaleesi went to live with Royer and Brown after her mother was arrested and sent to Middle River Regional Jail in October 2020. In September 2021, Royer and Khaleesi were reported missing.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Tim Martin said during Brown’s trial Khaleesi likely died in January. Her body has never been found. For more on her story and Brown’s trial, click here.

After the arraignment, Martin said, “There are always risks inherent in trying a case. There’s always a risk of loss. This agreement made it so Khaleesi’s family will not have to relive the horror of what happened to her and it gives us a clear path to each of these defendants never walking free again.”

Khaleesi’s body has yet to be found, but Martin said “We will never stop trying to find her.”

Brown will appear in court on February 8 for sentencing. Royer will appear on February 22 for sentencing.