Man, 19, admits murdering great-grandmother

2014-01-17T11:08:00Z 2014-03-27T16:18:04Z Man, 19, admits murdering great-grandmotherBy EDDIE GREGG egregg@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette
January 17, 2014 11:08 am  • 

A 19-year-old man accused of stabbing and beating his great-grandmother to death in her South Side home in July pleaded guilty to deliberate homicide in District Court on Friday.

Robert Alan Thompson admitted that he bludgeoned and then stabbed Shirley Lawrence, 77, to death with a knife last July 19 in her home at 4434 Murphy Ave.

His sentencing is scheduled for March 27 at 1 p.m.

As part of a plea agreement, a few years will be taken off Thompson’s recommended prison sentence because he provided information that helped investigators recover the victim’s wedding ring, which Thompson stole, according to Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Christopher A. Morris.

The state will ask that Thompson be sentenced to Montana State Prison for a total of 75 years for his admission to deliberate homicide with a weapons enhancement, Morris said Friday.

According to the plea agreement, Thompson's counsel, Assistant Public Defender J. Thomas Bartleson, can argue for a shorter prison term at the sentencing hearing.

The document also states that prosecutors have agreed not to charge Thompson with a felony in an unrelated investigation. The document does not include any other details about that matter.

Charging documents say Thompson was staying at Lawrence’s house at the time of the homicide. He killed his great-grandmother during an argument that started when she suggested he get a job or “he was going to be just like his father,” according to court records.

Officers arrested Thompson the next day in Colorado after he fled to Denver in Lawrence’s car, the records say.

Thompson delayed his return to Billings for over a month by refusing to waive extradition proceedings, forcing prosecutors to seek a Montana governor’s warrant for his return.

His court proceedings before Judge Mary Jane Knisely lasted less than 15 minutes Friday morning.

After entering his plea, Thompson took a seat with the other defendants in the courtroom and wept as he waited to be transported back to the county jail, where he is being held on $250,000 bond.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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