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Stacey Lannert
Born Stacey Ann Lannert
May 28, 1972 (1972-05-28) (age 37)
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Known for Conviction for murder

Stacey Ann Lannert[1] (born May 28, 1972, St. Louis, Missouri[2]) was serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole for the murder of her father, Tom Lannert.

On January 10, 2009, outgoing Missouri Governor Matt Blunt commuted her sentence, and that of another woman convicted under similar circumstances. Lannert's new sentence of 20 years makes her eligible for immediate conditional release. She now awaits a parole hearing. Gov. Blunt Grants Stacey Lannert Clemency. Governor Matt Blunt has commuted her life sentence to essentially time served. [3]

"After an exhaustive review of the facts in both cases, I am commuting the sentences of Stacey Lannert and Charity Carey, who suffered extensive abuse before they took action against the men who raped them and subjected them to other horrible physical and emotional abuse."[4]

Contents

The crime and the trial

At the age of 18, in the town of St. John, Missouri, Lannert shot her father while he slept. Later, after confessing to killing her father, she cited the ongoing abuse of her younger sister, Christy, as a catalyst. After her trial, she was sentenced to life in prison without parole. The prosecutors had alleged that she murdered her father because she wanted his money. Lannert claimed that her father had sexually abused her from the age of eight, and that her report of the abuse to her guidance counselor, babysitter, and psychiatrist had brought no result. Several expert witnesses testified at both Lannert's trial and appeal, agreeing that Lannert showed signs of abuse.

She testified that, on the night of her father's death, she had entered her home via a basement window at approximately 4:15-4:30 am on July 4, 1990. Seeing a rifle, she decided to kill her father. Finding her father asleep on the sofa, she shot him. Rather that killing him, the shot broke his collarbone and startled him awake. Unaware that he had been shot he asked Stacey to telephone for help and he apparently fell back asleep. At first Lannert complied, but then returned and shot her father in the head at point-blank range. The next day, she had a friend dispose of the murder weapon, and then called the police pretending to have found her father dead on the sofa on returning home. Evidence introduced at her trial showed that she had, over an extended period of time, explored several possible methods of killing her father, discussed her plans and made preparations with others, and had openly considered the financial gains she would inherit after her father's death.

Charged with first degree murder and other felonies, Lannert's lawyer offered the defense of insanity or mental defect, after his attempt to use the "battered spouse syndrome" in her defense. In a pre-trial ruling, the court limited mention of "battered spouse syndrome" but allowed the defendant to make "an offer of proof of self-defense". However, the judge refused to include any claim of self-defense in his instructions to the jury. According to the court "the defendant's testimony didn't indicate that she was in immediate fear of serious physical injury or death, as her testimony was that her father was passed out and drunk, or at least asleep when she fired the first shot". Thus, the court concluded that there was not any basis in the evidence for her claim of self-defense. The jury subsequently found her guilty and sentenced her to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Time served and appeals

After sentencing, some members of the jury expressed outrage that facts of sexual and physical abuse were never introduced at the trial. The presiding judge, the Hon. Steven H. Goldman, issued this statement regarding Stacey's case:

"[The] sentence is severe for a 20 year old. It is also somewhat surprising considering the evidence of sexual abuse by the victim's father...[a] conventional life sentence would be more appropriate from a comparison standpoint."[5]

The Missouri Court of Appeals found in favor of the trial judge. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, issued this statement after Lannert filed a petition for appeal:

"The 'absence of aggression or provocation on the part of the defender' element of the Missouri self-defense statute does not articulate a time frame during which the initial act of aggression and the act of self-defense must occur. It is therefore deeply troubling that the jury was not completely informed of the scope of the abuse Lannert suffered, her fear, or her rage that her sister may also have been victimized by their father. This evidence of battered spouse syndrome might have placed Lannert's actions in proper context, and may have allowed a jury to conclude that Lannert was not the initial aggressor on the night of her father's death, potentially resulting in a very different outcome than what she faces today."[5]

Nonetheless, on March 11, 2003, the court also found in favor of the original trial judge, though "reluctantly": the ruling held that the appeal failed before the cited standards: "Deadly force may be used in self-defense only when there is (1) an absence of aggression or provocation on the part of the defender, (2) a real, or apparently real, necessity for the defender to kill in order to save himself from an immediate danger of serious bodily injury or death, (3) a reasonable cause for the defender’s belief in such necessity, and (4) an attempt by the defender to do all within his power consistent with his personal safety to avoid the danger and the need to take a life." The court rejected Lannert's position that "a man who raped his daughter, when she was in the third grade, made him 'the initial aggressor', and the author of his own doom". More crucially, the court noted that the Battered Spouse Syndrome does not amount to a defense in itself, but merely a support for a claim of self-defense, indicating the frame of mind in which the defendant finds herself at the time of the act. The court declined to override Missouri's rules for jury instruction or interpretation of the Battered Spouse Syndrome law.

Lannert, after exhausting all of her appeals, sought from Missouri Governor Matt Blunt either commutation of her sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years (she had already served 18 years) or pardon. On January 10, 2009, the outgoing governor announced the commutation.

Lannert was described as a 'model prisoner,' active in many different community projects as well as helping other survivors of incest and abuse. She trained service dogs for the handicapped in a selective organization called C.H.A.M.P.S. She also was president of the Outreach program, an organization that brought troubled teens to prison for a wake up call. Her sister Christy, convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, was sentenced to five years imprisonment, and released after serving two and one half years.

Lannert was the focus of energetic support, with numerous websites inviting signatures on a petition for clemency.[5][6]

Today, she runs [Healing Sisters][1], a resource website and non-profit agency to end sexual abuse in America. She was scheduled to be a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show on May 14, 2009.

References

External links

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