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Woman pleads in home invasion

Friday, January 21, 2011

The day before her trial was to start, a College Grove woman pleaded guilty to her part in a home invasion case.

Laura Beth Lankford, 20, drove Michael Marlin and her husband, Travis Lankford, to the home of Allen Butler and Leigh Ann Taylor on Dec. 13, 2009. According to testimony at Marlin's trial, when Taylor came to the porch to see who had driven up, Laura said she was alone, and, further, that Travis was not with her. Then the two men rushed into the house, beat up Butler, injured Taylor, and stole pills, money, lighters and knives. Marlin was tried and convicted by a jury in October, and Travis Lankford pleaded guilty in November. Both received lengthy sentences, due in part to their previous criminal histories.

Laura, represented by attorney Venus Niner of Franklin, pleaded guilty to criminal responsibility for especially aggravated burglary and to criminal responsibility for aggravated robbery. The other four counts of her indictment were dismissed. Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler sentenced her to eight years at 30 percent on each count, to run concurrently. With 70 days of pretrial jail credit, Laura could be eligible for a parole board hearing in the spring of 2013.

Also on Wednesday, a Lewisburg man pleaded guilty in three drug cases.

Darren M. Lee, 40, received an effective sentence of 28 years at 35 percent. He was also fined $10,000.

"How am I going to do that?" Lee asked in an apparent reference to paying the fine.

"It's a mandatory fine," Crigler explained. "I guess you pay it when you get out."

Lee was indicted in three separate cases: possession, sale and delivery of crack cocaine. His criminal record covers two pages of the case file, but there were no drug charges on it until he was stopped in June 2010 by Lewisburg Police Officer Amanda Newcomb because she knew he did not have a driver's license, according to documents in the case file. During her search, crack cocaine was found in Lee's pocket. Subsequent to that, in August, Lee made two sales of crack to a confidential informant working for the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force, and was charged with those offences as well.

Lee will be eligible for a parole hearing in a little more than nine years.