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Last updated on Thursday, November 1, 2012
(BLOOMFIELD) - A jury sentenced Randy L. Knapp on Wednesday to life in prison without an opportunity for parole for the murder of Stacey Lawson.
Sabrina Westfall of the Greene County Daily World reports that after more than a week of witness testimony the jury convicted Knapp on Tuesday evening, after three hours of deliberation, of murdering Lawson on Aug. 19, 2011 at the Newark Cemetery.
In the final instructions, Circuit Court Judge Erik Allen instructed the jury to weigh the aggravating circumstances, presented by County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw, against the mitigating circumstances, presented by defense co-counsel David Hunter.
Allen explained to the jury the aggravating circumstances should be proven by the state beyond a reasonable doubt.
He added the mitigating circumstances were different than aggravating circumstance, wherein it need not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the belief of mitigating circumstances do not need to be unanimous among the jury and there are no limit of facts taken from the mitigating circumstance.
Holtsclaw asked the jury to recommend the life without parole sentencing because the aggravating circumstances showed Knapp was already on parole for two class D felony methamphetamine related charges.
Bloomington Police Department Det. Brandon Lopossa took the stand Wednesday morning to inform the court he had arrested Knapp on April 16, 2007 on a dealing methamphetamine charge in Monroe Circuit Court.
Knapp later took a plea deal to accept two lesser felonies, and was convicted June 11, 2009 of possession of methamphetamine and maintaining a common nuisance.
Megan Mahaffey, probation officer who serves adults in Monroe County, said on the stand Wednesday that Knapp was sentenced to serve consecutive sentences for the two charges, with the possession charge being three years in jail with 535 days suspended and the maintaining a common nuisance charge being three years in jail with the sentence suspended.
She added Knapp was to be on probation through Nov. 28, 2013, and confirmed Knapp was on unsupervised probation at the time Lawson was murdered.
"The evidence in this case clearly shows the defendant was on probation for two D felonies," Holtsclaw told the jury.
"On probation he should have been walking the line. ... Meth was at the heart of this case. He should have sought help for his problem, but he didn't seek help for his problem. ... He continued to use meth and murdered an innocent woman. I don't think he should ever be able to walk the streets again."
Hunter noted while the state had been able to prove Knapp had a prior conviction, he asked the jury to allow the judge to sentence Knapp as he sees fit.
The felony murder conviction holds a 45 to 65 year sentencing, according to the final instructions given to the jury.
"I can tell you this, the defendant is already 53 years of age. No matter what the judge gives is going to be a life sentence. The state is asking you to double that," Hunter said.
During the rebuttal, Holtsclaw noted to the jury if Knapp was not sentenced to life in prison without parole, he could be eligible for good behavior time and have his sentence cut in half.
As part of the mitigating circumstances, Hunter asked the jury to take into consideration Knapp's level of intoxication at the time of the murder. Hunter noted based on state statute intoxication includes both drugs and alcohol.
Hunter asked the jury to take into consideration the level of intoxication, mixed with the family issue Knapp was facing after Jeffre Alan Sims' death.
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