A weird 2017 kidnapping case involving a Lafayette millionaire, his estranged spouse and suspected employed kidnappers who later drowned whereas fleeing police got here to a quiet shut Monday night after Lawrence Michael Handley accepted a plea deal.
Handley, 53, has been incarcerated on the Lafayette Parish Correctional Middle since August 2017, when he was apprehended at a Slidell motel and arrested within the kidnapping of his estranged spouse, Schanda Handley.
He appeared in courtroom Monday shackled in an orange and tan striped jumpsuit, with an extended grey beard and shoulder size graying hair. He sat calmly for hours as different circumstances have been addressed and his staff of attorneys labored with the state to achieve a plea settlement; as soon as taken up at 5 p.m. by fifteenth Judicial District Courtroom Decide Scott Privat, the listening to took all of 10 minutes.
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Handley was initially indicted on counts of conspiracy to commit second-degree homicide, conspiracy to commit aggravated kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, tried second-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping and violation of a protecting order.
The fifteenth Judicial District Lawyer’s Workplace agreed to waive each conspiracy expenses and the protecting order cost and cut back the aggravated kidnapping cost to second-degree kidnapping in alternate for a responsible plea.
In negotiations, they agreed each second-degree kidnapping expenses will carry a doable sentence of 15 to 35 years and the tried second-degree kidnapping cost will carry a most sentence of 20 years, all to be served concurrently, Privat stated.
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Prosecutor Donald Knecht stated he felt a plea deal was the appropriate path as a result of it secured a considerable jail sentence that the victims have been supportive of, saved the victims from the stress of a trial and put to relaxation a widespread and complicated case that concerned a number of regulation enforcement companies from two states and a slew of witnesses and proof.
“I’m glad for the victims as a result of crucial factor in a plea over a trial is there are not any appeals…that actually offers them quite a lot of peace of thoughts. The actual fact the victims have been glad, not simply happy however glad, and we may give them that form of closure and talent to maneuver on is crucial factor to me,” Knecht stated.
Handley will subsequent have a sentencing listening to after a pre-sentencing investigation is accomplished. His lawyer, Kevin Stockstill, stated whereas they have been assured they might counter the prosecution’s arguments, a life sentence was on the desk as a risk for the aggravated kidnapping cost, they usually wished to make sure Handley has a shot at life after jail.
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Stockstill stated he’s hopeful Handley’s good deeds locally, together with philanthropic work and drug dependancy providers offered by way of Townsend Habit Remedy Middle, which he offered in 2015, coupled along with his lack of violent felony historical past, and mitigating components like his battles to beat dependancy and psychological sickness, will work in his favor to safe a sentence on the decrease finish of the agreed upon vary.
“Mr. Handley did quite a lot of good issues in his life,” Stockstill. “It’s important to think about the nice he’s carried out, particularly when he’s been sober.”
“We really feel he was initially overcharged and that the district lawyer’s workplace was overzealous of their prosecution. We’re glad we received the DA to see the sunshine,” lawyer Scott Hawkins stated.
Handley pleaded responsible within the kidnapping of his then-estranged spouse, Schanda Handley, who was kidnapped at gunpoint by two males from the couple’s Founders Avenue residence on Aug. 6, 2017, and brought away handcuffed at the back of a white van. A buddy of Schanda’s and a minor have been residence on the time of the kidnapping and have been additionally corralled by the abductors, the grownup handcuffed, arrest paperwork stated.
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Schanda Handley was recovered later that very same day after the abductors attracted police consideration whereas driving on the shoulder of Interstate 10 to avoid a visitors crash. The duo was pursued by Iberville and West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Workplace deputies to a Turner Industries facility close to La. 1. They deserted the van after it turned trapped in mud, and Schanda Handley was discovered within the again.
The accused kidnappers — recognized as Sylvester Bracey and Arsenio Montreal Haynes, two 27-year-old males from Jackson, Mississippi — drowned whereas fleeing regulation enforcement and their our bodies have been found within the Intracoastal Waterway close to Port Allen on Aug. 7, 2017.
Handley and his estranged spouse had been concerned in a contentious divorce on the time of the kidnapping. In sanity evaluations carried out through the case, examiners additionally famous Handley reported a historical past of relapsed substance abuse within the months resulting in the kidnapping and psychological well being struggles after ending long-term psychiatric care.
The couple was granted a divorce in March 2018.