Cris Ritchie — Editor
December 17, 2013
HAZARD – A jury trial was possibly averted last week after a Perry County woman pleaded guilty to charges including robbery and attempted murder.
Bonnyman resident Lilli N. Hurt, 21, appeared in Perry Circuit Court on Thursday where a plea agreement was announced, calling for a maximum of 15 years in prison. The deal was the latest after Judge William Engle opted not to accept a previous agreement following an objection by the victim, noting Hurt would be eligible for parole in only five years.
Hurt was arrested in September 2012 after she was alleged to have entered the BP station in the Grapevine community and stabbed two people during a robbery attempt, seriously injuring an employee of the business in the process. She has been lodged in the Kentucky River Regional Jail in Hazard since her arrest.
Hurt was set for trial on Dec. 9, but defense attorney Brent Flowers said a request to continue the trial was made after an indication that the prosecution could move to amend the attempted murder charge to first-degree assault. Flowers said the defense was not prepared to defend Hurt on assault charges, which call for different legal standards.
“We were ready for trial this past Monday,” Flowers said. “Once we were confronted with the fact that she was facing new charges that we were completely unprepared to defend her on, we needed more time to prepare.”
Judge William Engle granted the continuance, but a new trial may not be needed after Hurt’s guilty plea entered on Thursday. The latest plea calls for Hurt to plead guilty as charged in exchange for 15 years, while the previous agreement included amended charges for a total of 25 years to serve. Though Hurt would have been eligible for parole earlier in the previous deal, it is expected she will be required to serve at least 85 percent of her sentence with the latest agreement.
Flowers said he will research parole eligibility guidelines as they relate to the new agreement, but added the deal is better for his client as it calls for less time to serve.
“I think we were disappointed we didn’t have the chance to present our case to the jury,” Flowers said, “but overall with the new deal for fewer years, we’re satisfied.”
Hurt is scheduled for sentencing in January, at which time Engle can either deny the agreement and the case will proceed to trial, or he can accept the agreement and proceed with sentencing.