17-year sentence handed down

Friday, January 14, 2011

The second of three defendants indicted after a 2009 home invasion in Chapel Hill was sentenced last week, after pleading guilty in November.

Travis Lankford, 24, of College Grove, was sentenced to a total of 17 years, of which he must serve 30 percent before he is eligible for parole. Thus, with nearly a year of pre-trial jail credit, Lankford could be out of prison in a little over five years.

Lankford pleaded guilty to three counts of especially aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, robbery, criminal responsibility for aggravated assault, and assault.

Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler applied sentencing guidelines that took into account Lankford's extensive history of misdemeanor convictions for such crimes as simple possession, theft, driving under the influence, public intoxication, and resisting or evading arrest.

Lankford's co-defendant, Michael Marlin, 23, of Chapel Hill, was found guilty in an October jury trial. Convicted on similar charges to Lankford, Marlin was sentenced to 20 years at 35 percent.

The third defendant, Laura Lankford, 20, is scheduled for trial later this month.

At Marlin's trial, the jury heard testimony from the victims, Allen Butler and Leigh Ann Taylor, whose home on Creekview Road, near the Maury County line, was invaded on Dec. 13, 2009. Marlin and Travis Lankford went into the house, while Laura Lankford waited outside with the car.

Butler was beaten unconscious by Marlin, and spent 26 days at Vanderbilt Medical Center, 10 of those is a coma. Taylor was restrained by Travis Lankford, who prevented her from going to Butler's aid. Marlin searched the couple's bedroom and allegedly took lighters, knives and cash, while Travis Lankford made Taylor give him prescription medicines. Butler has short- and long-term memory loss, nerve damage in his right arm, and suffers from uncontrollable head movements. At the time of the trial, he was living with his brother in Nashville. Since then, according to the report in Marlin's file by Crystal Gray of the Board of Probation and Parole, Butler has been able to move back into his own home, with Taylor looking after him.

"He would not wish what he was going through on a dog," reported Gray, who noted that Butler had to rely on Taylor to brush his hair, shave him, and help with all his other daily needs.

According to public record, Marlin turned himself in on Dec. 17, but the Lankfords fled to Alabama. Travis Lankford was not returned to Marshall County until late January, after being arrested and charged with domestic assault in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Travis Lankford was represented by attorney Eric L. Davis of Franklin.