Two charged in Orman murder case have court dates; one gets change of venue

Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Michelle R. Lawrence arrives at the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse in Jackson on Nov. 25 for a preliminary hearing before Associate Circuit Judge Gary A. Kamp on a single charge of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. (Fred Lynch)

Two of the three suspects in the Oct. 27 shooting deaths of a pregnant woman and her 15-year-old son appeared in court Monday, one to learn where she would be tried and the other to enter a formal plea of not guilty.

Michelle R. Lawrence, 39, will be tried in Bollinger County, Circuit Judge William Syler ruled during the brief hearing at the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse in Jackson. Lawrence, who is charged with a single felony count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, did not attend. She is being held on a $250,000 bond at the Bollinger County Jail.

In sending the case to be tried in Marble Hill, Mo., Syler accepted a joint recommendation from district defender Christopher Davis and assistant prosecuting attorney Jack Koester.

Samuel R. "Ray Ray" Hughes, 25, charged with three counts of second-degree murder, burglary and attempted arson in the shooting that left pregnant Jamie Lynn Orman and her 15-year-old son Derrick Orman dead Oct. 27, did appear Monday before Syler. Hughes was in court for his formal arraignment, entering a plea of not guilty.

Syler directed Hughes to return to court Feb. 16 after public defender Wayne Williams asked for time to digest the 1,500-page police report in the case. Hughes is being held at the Cape Girardeau County Jail on a $500,000 bond.

Michelle Lawrence is accused of conspiracy with Ryan T. Patterson to kill John Lawrence, her estranged husband. In sworn statements filed in October, investigators said Michelle Lawrence admitted wanting her husband dead in order to collect life insurance payouts. She also allegedly wanted the house burned to generate more cash, up to $400,000 in all.

John Lawrence was working a night shift when the shooter entered his home at 1224 N. Missouri Ave. before dawn Oct. 27 and shot Jamie Lynn and Derrick Orman in their beds. Investigators believe Patterson was the lone shooter, with Hughes going along that morning after being told the house was an easy burglary target with electronics and cash.

Patterson, 28, will be tried in Cape Girardeau County by a jury selected in Pemiscot County. He is being held on a $750,000 bond at the Cape Girardeau County Jail.

Patterson is accused of three counts of first-degree murder. He is also accused of burglary and attempted arson.

Within 36 hours of the shootings, the Cape Girardeau/Bollinger County Major Case Squad investigation led to the arrest of Patterson and Lawrence, who shared an apartment on Hackberry Street. Hughes, who lived on South Lorimier Street, was arrested the next day.

Monday's hearing was, as have each of the previous court dates, attended by several members of the Orman family, as well as John Lawrence. They filed out silently after watching Hughes enter his plea.

Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said after the court hearings Monday that he had not decided whether to seek the death penalty for Patterson. If Swingle does not seek the death penalty, Patterson would face life in prison without parole if convicted.

Hughes faces a possible sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole if convicted.

Lawrence could be sentenced to five to 15 years in prison.

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

100 Court St., Jackson, MO

1224 N. Missouri Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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