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Three in Independence County enter guilty pleas

Three Independence County individuals entered guilty pleas on March 26 in 16th Judicial District Circuit Court. Prosecutor Eric Hance and Deputy Prosecutor Kellye Barber prosecuted the cases which were heard by the Honorable Tim Weaver.

Brandon Tyler Lay pled guilty to internet stalking of a child, a Class B felony; residential burglary, theft of property, and theft by receiving. He was sentenced to 26 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

Lay received 20 years on an incident that occurred in January when he arranged by private messaging to meet a female whom he believed to be 15-years-old. Lay engaged in multiple sexually explicit private messages with the subject. He was taken into custody when he went to a location where he had arranged to meet the juvenile female. When arrested, he was carrying a condom in his pocket. Lay was also sentenced to six years on the burglary, theft, and theft by receiving charges to run concurrent with the internet stalking of a child charge.

Last June, Lay admitted in a statement to Batesville Police Department investigator Fred Friar, that he had broken into several homes in Batesville and had taken a variety of items. In August, Lay was found in possession of a stolen Warn electric winch, valued at approximately $1,800.

William Tyrone Harper pled guilty to delivery of methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia with purpose to use methamphetamine (10-200 grams) and was sentenced to 20 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections, plus a five-year suspended imposition of sentence.

Harper, who had outstanding criminal charges for delivery of two counts of methamphetamine, was captured last September by agents with the 16th Judicial District Drug Task Force at a home in Batesville. At that time, Harper was in possession of digital scales and baggies of crystal methamphetamine.

Samantha Morgan pled guilty to delivery of methamphetamine (2-10 grams) and was sentenced to 15 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections plus five-years suspended imposition of sentence.

Morgan was arrested last May when she purchased $400 worth of methamphetamine in the course of an investigation conducted by the 16th Judicial Drug Task Force and local law enforcement agencies. Morgan was convicted as a habitual offender, due to having more than four prior felonies.  

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