Michelle Lawrence sentenced to 15 years for murder conspiracy

Sunday, August 28, 2011
Michelle R. Lawrence arrives at the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse in Jackson Wednesday for a preliminary hearing before Associate Circuit Judge Gary A. Kamp on a single charge of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. (Fred Lynch)

MARBLE HILL, Mo. -- Michelle Lawrence, the woman who pleaded guilty to conceiving a plot to kill her husband for insurance money, was sentenced to 15 years in prison Friday for her role in a botched plan that instead resulted in the 2009 murders of a pregnant woman and her teenage son.

"She pleaded guilty to the crime she actually committed -- conspiring to kill John Lawrence," said Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle. "She didn't intend for the Ormans to get killed."

But that's what happened when her then-boyfriend, Ryan Patterson, shot John Lawrence's girlfriend, Jamie Lynn Orman, and her 15-year-old son Derrick in John Lawrence's home. Patterson was sentenced to three life sentences earlier this month in Jackson for the deaths, including for Orman's unborn child, after his conviction by a Pemiscot County jury.

Despite her pleas for leniency, Judge William Syler sentenced Lawrence to the maximum allowed for conspiracy to commit murder. The sentence followed Swingle's recommendation, which was made as part of a plea agreement in exchange for Lawrence's testimony earlier this month at the Patterson trial.

Before sentencing, Syler heard victim impact statements from Derrick Orman's father, Bruce Orman, and Jamie Orman's sister, Kelly Hoffman. Both talked about how devastated they were by the loss of their loved ones, Swingle said.

But Michelle Lawrence knew what she was doing when she plotted to kill her husband, Swingle said. She apologized to the court, Swingle said, for her crime of greed.

"That's the word she used," Swingle said. "Greed."

Lawrence was represented in court Friday by public defender Chris Davis. Davis argued Friday, based on a presentence investigation by the Department of Probation and Parole, that for this type of crime a typical sentencing can range from probation up to eight years in prison.

But, according to Swingle, Syler said he felt 15 years was the appropriate sentence in light of all the circumstances.

Swingle said he was pleased with the sentencing that took place in Bollinger County on a change of venue.

"I know the family wanted her to get as much as possible," Swingle said.

Samuel "Ray Ray" Hughes, who also testified in court at the Patterson trial that he was the lookout for what he thought was a burglary, is the last to be sentenced in the case. In December, Hughes pleaded to a reduced charge of second-degree murder. Sentencing has been set in Hughes' case for Sept. 13 in Charleston, Mo.

smoyers@semissourian.com

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Pertinent address:

204 High St., Marble Hill, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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