Mo. woman pleads guilty in death plot

MARBLE HILL, Mo. (AP) — A southeast Missouri woman has pleaded guilty in a plot that took the lives of her estranged husband’s pregnant girlfriend and that woman’s teenage son.

Michelle Lawrence faces five to 15 years in prison for her role in the October 2009 shooting deaths of Jamie Lynn Orman, 30, who was pregnant, and her son Derrick Orman, 15. Lawrence, 40, of Chaffee, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of conspiracy to commit murder in Bollinger County Circuit Court, where the case was moved from Cape Girardeau County.

Cape Girardeau County prosecutor Morley Swingle told the Southeast Missourian he would recommend the maximum sentence. The sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 26 — three weeks after a co-defendant, Ryan Patterson, is to go on trial on three counts of first-degree murder.

“Part of her agreement is that she testify truthfully in the case of Ryan Patterson,” Swingle said.

Another defendant, Samuel “Ray Ray” Hughes, pleaded guilty last year to a single count of second-degree murder and faces sentencing Sept. 13. Authorities alleged that Hughes acted as a lookout when Patterson kicked in the door of John Lawrence’s Cape Girardeau home and shot the sleeping victims.

Police have said John Lawrence was the intended victim of the plot. He had not arrived home from his job on a night shift when the killings took place.

John Lawrence told the Southeast Missourian in November 2009 that his wife had been unable to accept that their 18-year marriage was ending.

In court Friday, Michelle Lawrence testified that she and Patterson — her boyfriend — discussed the fact that her life would be better if John Lawrence was dead. She was still a beneficiary on his life insurance policy, even though they were separated.

Terry Bettis, Jamie Lynn Orman’s mother, said Friday she plans to take off days from work to be at Patterson’s trial. She said she isn’t happy with Michelle Lawrence’s plea but accepted it because now Lawrence will testify against Patterson.

“She got someone else to do her dirty work,” Bettis said. “She got exactly what she wanted, my daughter is gone.”

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