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Mon, Oct. 21

Jury: Men guilty in home invasion case

PRESCOTT – A jury has found both men facing charges in connection with a home invasion this past year guilty of kidnapping.

Richard Kenneth Lane, 22, and Charles Brannoc Pugsley, 24, both faced charges of armed robbery, aggravated assault and kidnapping. The charges stem from their participation in a home invasion and robbery in 2001.

After a turbulent deliberation, including the selection of a new foreperson, the jury delivered its verdict Friday afternoon. They found Lane guilty of all counts against him. They found Pugsley guilty of armed robbery and kidnapping and found him not guilty of the aggravated assault charges.

According to court reports, the men broke into 82-year-old Garland Smith's Prescott home on Sept. 5, 2001. Smith was extremely ill and confined to his bed at the time of the crime.

The men broke into his home and demanded money. When Smith refused to tell the intruders where to find money, they pressed a gun against his forehead and caused a laceration.

The men also used duct tape to bind together Jairi Miller's hands. Miller was Smith's caretaker at the time of the incident. They also "pistol whipped" her after she did not respond to their demands for money. She suffered a concussion and lost several teeth. The men did find some money and made off with about $3,800.

The jury worked through an "impasse" to deliver the verdict. Maricopa Superior Court Judge Roland Steinle III, careful not to probe too deeply into the state of the deliberations, agreed to allow the jury to ask the attorneys specific questions about whatever issues they were unable to agree upon.

Attorneys briefly argued definitions of reasonable doubt.

Chester Lockwood, Lane's attorney, told the jury that he thought there was enough reasonable doubt to require the jury to find the men not guilty.

"Everything the state wants you to think is, 'Guess about this fact and assume that fact,'" he said. "If the state cannot prove it you can't convict."

Deputy Yavapai County Attorney Steve Jaynes told the jury that the definition of reasonable doubt was "basically common sense," adding that common sense should lead to the conviction of the men.

"What we really want is your common sense applied to a set of facts," he said.

A little more than an hour after the lawyers made their arguments, the jury returned the verdict.

Lane faces as long as 93 years in prison and Pugsley now faces as long as 63 years in prison. Steinle tentatively scheduled a sentencing hearing for the men on Aug. 29.

Lane and Pugsley's convictions came on the heels of the sentencing of Michael Jorgenson, an important state witness.

The judge told him Thursday that he will spend three years on probation for his participation in the home invasion. Jorgenson pleaded guilty to the facilitation of several crimes related to the home invasion, including aggravated assault, armed robbery and kidnapping.

He testified that he unknowingly drove the getaway vehicle for Pugsley and Lane after they robbed Smith.

His testimony was part of a plea agreement with the state. He originally faced charges similar to those of Lane and Pugsley.

At the hearing, Jorgenson tearfully apologized for his involvement and expressed a desire to "make things right."

"If I weren't so conceited that day, so self-absorbed, I would have saw it and I would have done something," he said. "I failed. I'm really truly sorry."

Steinle told Jorgenson that he was "getting a very, very, very good deal" and that if he violated any of his terms of probation he could spend 10 years in prison.

He also sentenced him to pay restitution for the money that the men stole and to complete 360 hours of community service.

"You said you want to make it right, this is one way to make it right," Steinle said.

"No one will feel sorry for you if you don't take the opportunity granted to you … and it's going to require that you work your butt off."

Contact C. Murphy Hébert at mhebert@prescottaz.com.

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