Beating victim emerges from coma

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Marshall County man has awakened from a coma suffered from a beating nearly three weeks earlier, according to his brother who says about $5,600 were stolen from a hiding place.

Lones Allen Butler, 56, a retired CSX railroad bridge repair gang member on disability whose wife died seven years ago, has been treated at Vanderbilt Medical Center and faces rehabilitation therapy, his brother, Sherman Butler of Nashville, said last weekend.

Michael Dean Marlin, 22, of 308 Bandiwood at Chapel Hill and an accomplice, Travis Lankford, who's awaiting extradition from Gulf Shores, Ala., allegedly entered Allen Butler's home where he's been living with Leigh Ann Taylor, 31, at about 11 p.m. on Dec. 13, according to a statement from Sheriff's Detective Keith Jolley.

Lankford allegedly assaulted Taylor and Marlin allegedly assaulted Allen Butler, Jolley said on Dec. 28. Sherman Butler alleges Lankford held Taylor down so she couldn't defend Allen Butler.

Marlin surrendered himself at the county jail on Dec. 17 when he was charged with aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, and aggravated robbery, Jolley said.

Laura Beth Lankford, 19, of 6934 Arno-Allisona Road, College Grove, allegedly drove Marlin and Travis Lankford to 5462 Creekview Road where Allen Butler and Taylor were living, Jolley said. Laura Lankford was arrested and charged with the same crimes facing Marlin. He's being held on $172,500 bond, a jail official said. She's being held on $167,500 bond.

On Tuesday last week, Laura Lankford appeared before Marshall County General Sessions Court Judge Steve Bowden, asking that her bond be lowered. For that hearing, she was represented by local attorney Jheri Beth Rich. Bowden denied the request. The hearing lasted three to five minutes. Another hearing is scheduled for Tuesday morning next week, Jan. 12.

A description of the robbery written in the several arrest warrants on file at the Sessions Court Clerk's Office alleges that after Marlin assaulted Butler, he went through the victim's bedroom and "took some change that was in a coin holder."

The victim's brother said he was unaware of coins being taken, adding that it was his understanding that Allen Butler was saving money to go on a vacation with Taylor. The money, some $5,600, was taped to the underside of a table in the house at the northwest border of Marshall County.

The house is so close to Maury County that it has a Columbia mailing address and a Maury County phone number, Sherman Butler said.

He describes the chain of events as including Laura Beth Lankford knocking on the door late at night. Taylor recognized her, told her boyfriend, Butler, who asked if her husband was with her. Taylor apparently couldn't see, said no, and let her in. That's when the two men rushed into the house.

Law enforcement officials and Sherman Butler have explained that suspects had broken into the house earlier that night while Butler and Taylor were gone. Sherman Butler said pain medication was taken during that first crime.

So, while Travis Lankford awaits extradition from Alabama, Allen Butler is recovering from a hairline fracture of his jaw, a broken nose and injuries to his ear, Sherman Butler says. The assault started when the victim was standing in front of his commode. The first blow apparently knocked his head into glass in the bathroom, the brother said.

Travis Lankford was taken into custody by Gulf Shores Police because of a domestic dispute that was in public. After his arrest, he was held for Marshall County.