BY MELANIE BUCK & LEANN DILBECK –
Lori Rose, age 39, has been found guilty on all charges this afternoon – Aggravated Residential Burglary, Aggravated Assault, Domestic Battery (2nd Degree), and Terroristic Threatening (2nd Degree) for the shooting of Billy Vaught in his home November 23, 2013. The 4-man, 8-woman jury rendered their verdict after only a 26-minute deliberation following two days of testimony before the Honorable Judge Ted Capeheart in Polk County Circuit Court.
Jurors returned with a recommended sentence of 24-years for the Aggravated Residential Burglary charge, 3-years for Aggravated Assault, 3-years for Domestic Battery, and 3-years for Terroristic Threatening to be served concurrently, meaning a total of 24-years. Jurors also recommended imposing an enhanced firearm penalty of 12-years on each of the 4 charges, which law states may not be served consecutively with the original sentence. Judge Capeheart wants to research whether they may be served consecutively of each other and, therefore, delayed his official sentencing until Thursday, October 23 at 10 a.m. If they are allowed to, Rose will face 36-years versus 72-years in prison. Rose was taken into custody to be detained at the Polk County Detention Center until Thursday at which time she will immediately be remanded to the Arkansas Department of Corrections.
During closing arguments, Prosecuting Attorney Andy Riner told jurors, “We don’t want to live in a community where people can point guns at each other and get away with it.” He asked the jury, “Do we want to live with vigilante justice or are we going to follow the law?” The vigilante justice Riner referred to was in regards to serious allegations from the defendant concerning a minor family member and was considered the motive in the case.
The defense argued that Rose had no intent to shoot Vaught upon her entering his residence while he was sleeping. Defense Counsel Greg Klebanoff urged the jury to not just follow the “letter of the law but the spirit of the law.”
Rose and Vaught, who were romantically involved but estranged at the time, both testified as to the details of the evening of the shooting. The incident regarding the minor was said to have occurred sometime between 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. on the morning of November 22. Rose learned of the incident when told by other family members at her place of employment at a local manufacturing facility. A police report was filed and Rose admitted to being frustrated when police were unable to follow up because they had, in her words, a ‘more important matter’ happening that day. The following day, the Rose family went for ice-cream and the movies (without Vaught) and then the minors were dropped off at friends’ houses while Rose attended the Elk’s, testifying that she had ‘3 to 4 drinks’ before she drove to Vaught’s home. Once she entered through an unlocked door, she saw a .280 Thompson Center single-shot rifle and picked it up and entered his room. Vaught awoke when the light came on. Both agreed that the gun went off, striking him in his right knee, when Vaught kicked it.
Vaught called his sister for help at which time Lori left and went back home until the police brought her in for questioning. Vaught’s original statement to police was that it was an accident and then later admitted, “Lori Rose shot me.”
Forensic evidence was not a major part of the case; however, three “expert witnesses” did testify that gun residue was found on her left boot and his blood was found on the back left shoulder of her shirt. The shirt was found in the washing machine.
Rose and her defense team appeared in Polk County Circuit Court just two-weeks prior arguing and winning a motion that Vaught could not be referred to as a “victim” during this week’s trial and also attempted to have the Aggravated Residential Burglary charge dropped, citing that she had “license or privilege to enter” Vaught’s residence and that motion was denied.
Following today’s guilty verdict, Riner said, “The Polk County Sheriff’s Office did an excellent job with the investigation. Sheriff Godfrey and Deputy Seth Smith deserve a ton of credit for their careful work in this investigation. I appreciate the jury’s verdict, and their willingness to serve on this case. This verdict demonstrates that the citizens of Polk County will not tolerate gun violence perpetrated by those choosing to take the law in their own hands.”