Re-sentencing set in beating

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

A Chapel Hill man is to be re-sentenced by the Marshall County Circuit Court because the Court of Criminal Appeals this month overturned some of his convictions.

The defendant remains convicted of beating a retired man so badly that his skull and jaw were broken. He was in a coma during much of his recovery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

A year ago, a jury found Michael Dean Marlin, 24, guilty of aggravated robbery, robbery, aggravated assault, assault, and three counts of especially aggravated burglary. Judge Robert Crigler gave Marlin an effective sentence of 20 years, of which, as a Range II multiple offender, he was to serve at least 35 percent before being eligible for parole.

On behalf of the three-man appeals court, Judge Joseph Tipton wrote, "We affirm the judgments for robbery and assault, but we remand the case for entry of judgments in which the defendant's convictions for especially aggravated burglary are modified to aggravated burglary and he is re-sentenced accordingly, and the conviction for aggravated assault is merged into a judgment of conviction for aggravated robbery."

Tipton cites a Tennessee state law, the effect of which is that a defendant cannot be convicted of both especially aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery when the serious bodily injury of one person is an element of both offenses.

The charges against Marlin arose from a home invasion in December 2009. Marlin and Travis Lankford invaded Lones Allen Butler's home at 5462 Creekview Road near the Maury County line on the night of Dec. 13. Lankford grappled with Leigh Ann Taylor, Butler's girlfriend, while Marlin beat up Butler. The two men left with $1,000 cash, some knives and lighters, and some prescription drugs.

The Vanderbilt trauma surgeon who treated Butler testified he could have died from his injuries, which included a fractured skull, broken jaw, broken ribs, and multiple lacerations. Butler spent 26 days at Vanderbilt, 10 of those in a coma. Butler has short- and long-term memory loss, and nerve damage in his right arm. According to the report in the Marlin's case file by Crystal Gray of the Board of Probation and Parole, Butler now has to rely on Taylor to brush his hair, shave him, and help with all his other daily needs.

"He would not wish what he was going through on a dog," reported Gray at Marlin's sentencing hearing.

Travis Lankford, 25, pled guilty to three counts of especially aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, robbery, criminal responsibility for aggravated assault, and assault.

Crigler applied sentencing guidelines that took into account Travis Lankford's extensive history of misdemeanor convictions and sentenced him to a total of 17 years. He is currently confined in the Whiteville Correctional Facility, and will be eligible for a parole hearing in July 2012. Travis Lankford's sentence ends in 2025.

Laura Lankford, 21, who was Travis' wife at the time of the crime, pled guilty to criminal responsibility for especially aggravated burglary and to criminal responsibility for aggravated robbery. Crigler sentenced her to eight years at 30 percent on each count, to run concurrently. Laura could be eligible for a parole board hearing in the spring of 2013. She is confined in the Marshall County Jail.