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Last updated on Saturday, June 9, 2012
(BLOOMFIELD) - Accused murder suspect Randy Knapp has been advised that the prosecution plans to seek a life-without-parole sentence enhancement in the August 2011 death of rural Solsberry resident Stacey Jo Lawson.
Nick Schneider, of the Greene County Daily World, reports Knapp was told of the state's plans for the life-without-parole enhancement, which was filed May 25 by Greene County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw, during a pre-trial conference Wednesday morning in Greene Circuit Court.
The number of potential jurors that will be called in the case was also discussed with the prosecutor and defense attorney David Hunter, from Bloomington, but no decision was made on how many jurors will received summons letters for the 9 a.m. jury trial on Aug. 20.
Circuit Judge Erik Allen said the final pre-trial conference for 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 8.
Knapp, 52, of Bloomington, was arrested less than a week after the bludgeoned body of 28-year-old Lawson was found near the Newark Cemetery.
Knapp is charged with murder -- a felony; criminal confinement - a class B felony; and obstruction of justice -- a class D felony.
Lawson died of blunt force trauma to the head, and her body was found Aug. 20, 2011 in a wooded area near the Newark Baptist Church Cemetery.
Police say the victim was killed by blows from a large geode rock - a hollow rock with sparkling crystals inside and used for decorative purposes - that had been displayed on the grave of her younger brother, Brandyn Takoda Scott Beck, 10, of Solsberry.
Beck passed away March 4, 2008.
The victim frequently visited the gravesite, according to a 12-page probable cause affidavit filed by Greene County Sheriff's Department Deputy George Dallaire.
Knapp's arrest was the result of a joint investigation by the Indiana State Police and the Greene County Sheriff's Department.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Lawson left her rural Solsberry residence about 4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19, and told her boyfriend, Patrick Lewis, that she was going to get some money - a few thousand dollars - from Knapp.
An autopsy performed Aug. 22 by Dr. Roland Kohr at Terre Haute Regional Hospital showed bruising and abrasions on Lawson's back and a deep, open fracture on the left side of her skull.
Lawson's mother, Lorie Lawson, told investigators she talked to her daughter about 1-2 p.m. on Aug. 19 and was told "that Randy guy" was going to take her to the former residence of Jeffre Allan Sims, in Bloomfield, to pick up some of her things.
Lawson formerly lived with Sims, who was found dead about two weeks before her death in a room at the Fairfield Inn in Bloomington from an apparent suicide.
Knapp is the boyfriend of Sims' mother.
During an interview with detectives, Knapp denied killing Lawson, but said he did take her to the church cemetery, according to court records.
Police reviewed Knapp's cell phone records and found he was in the vicinity of the church cemetery between 4 and 5 p.m. on Aug. 19. Cell phone records also show that he returned to the cemetery about 1 a.m. on Aug. 20.
Knapp, who was a close friend to Sims, allegedly made death threats to several people -- including the minister who performed Sims' funeral - M. Aaron Strunk, Jeremy Walker, and Lawson, according to court records.
Det. Dallaire wrote that the motive for the murder appears to be retaliation for what he believed was Lawson's involvement in the death of Sims.
"I believe that Randy Knapp was convinced that Stacey Lawson was involved in the death of her ex-boyfriend Jeffre Alan Sims. It appears Knapp planned to kill Stacey Lawson and enticed her into his vehicle with the promise of money," Dalaire wrote in the probable cause affidavit.
Lawson is being held without bond in the Greene County Jail.
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