Teen accused of killing great-grandmother will plead guilty

2013-12-31T15:59:00Z 2014-03-27T16:18:05Z Teen accused of killing great-grandmother will plead guiltyGazette Staff The Billings Gazette
December 31, 2013 3:59 pm  • 

A 19-year-old man accused of stabbing and beating his great-grandmother to death in her South Side home in July will plead guilty to deliberate homicide, a prosecutor said.

Robert Alan Thompson is charged in the July 19 death of Shirley Lawrence, 77, who prosecutors say was bludgeoned and stabbed in her home at 4434 Murphy Ave.

A change-of-plea motion, recently filed by Thompson’s counsel, assistant public defender J. Thomas Bartleson, states that a plea agreement has been reached with state prosecutors.

The motion asks that Thompson’s trial be vacated and that a change-of-plea hearing be scheduled for Jan. 17.

Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Christopher A. Morris said Tuesday that the arrangement has been agreed to by all parties involved, but that it hasn’t been filed yet because the state’s recommended sentence is still being finalized.

As part of the 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, Morris said.

“It mattered to some, emphasis some, family,” Morris said.

Charging documents state that 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.

He is being held at the county jail 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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