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Posted: April 2, 2011 3:56 p.m.

Penalty phase begins in Lakemper trial

Defense attorneys attempt to save Lakemper from the death penalty

Friday was the start of the penalty phase against convicted murderer Cobey Wade Lakemper and his attorneys are now working to save him from being sentenced to the death penalty for crimes against Wendy Cartledge-Carter in 2005.
Both Lakemper's attorneys and District Attorney Layla Zon are permitted to present more evidence in the case that speaks to Lakemper's character.

"You have spoken, Cobey Lakemper is guilty... we accept that decision and we respect that decision," said defense attorney Emily Gilbert. "...You are not about to hear a laundry list of excuses for Cobey... Nothing excuses the pain that they [Cartledge-Carter's family] experienced... the question now is if death by lethal injection the only fair punishment."
The state brought forth several victims of Lakemper's crime spree to tell the jury of their homes being burglarized and, in one case, a surveillance video from a Kansas City, Mo hotel wasshown and the clerk testified about how Lakemper robbed her at gunpoint as jurors watched it.

Lakemper's attorney Joseph Vigneri asked few questions of these witnesses. He did have all of them reiterate that when checks were stolen they were written out to Lakemper and that he never attempted to hide his identity during this time.

A former guard from the Newton County Jail, who Lakemper told jurors he had a relationship with prior to attempting to blackmail her to send money to one of his children, also took the stand.

She testified that statements Lakemper had made of her initiating a relationship with him and asking to see him naked were untrue. She did admit to exchanging sexually explicit letters with him, saying she would send hers to his mother in Missouri, who would then send them to Lakemper in the jail.

She said things began when she was venerable because of a breakup and said that Lakemper manipulated her, saying "I was taken advantage of. Not for the first time by a man."

She also admitted that he addressed some letters to her with "Pretty Witch," a play on their shared interest in the television show "Charmed," and that once he signed a letter "Cole" which was the name of the demon on the show. As she testified to this Lakemper could be seen grinning and chuckling at the defense table.

She told jurors she wrote him the sexual letters to "fulfill a man's last wish," and the relationship, such as it was, continued from mid-2008 until around March of 2009. And that the letters were the start of things but when she tried to stop it things got worse because that was when Lakemper began blackmailing her. She admitted that she had sent several hundred dollars to his mother for his son, as well as gift cards, and that at one time her lights were shut off because she had been too frightened of what Lakemper would do if she refused to send the money to his child.

Zon also called Lakemper's ex-wife Rebecca, and the mother to one of his son's, to the stand. Jurors sat transfixed as she talked about the abuse she endured at his hand, including a time when he held a knife to her throat and bounced up and down on her stomach while she was roughly six months pregnant with their child. She cried as she told of the beatings while Lakemper whispered to his attorneys and drank water.

She also said their 10-year-old son was currently an inpatient in a psychiatric hospital due to several different emotional issues, including defiance and possible depression, and that he has been on various medications for the last five years, all of which first started when he saw the video of his father holding a gun to the hotel clerk in Kansas City on television before she could turn it off.

Jurors ended their day on an emotional note, listening to six members of Cartledge-Carter's family read their victim impact statements and testify about their lives without her in them.

Her cousin Wanda Cook Moore called Cartledge-Carter the "glue that held our family together," saying "the toll that her death has taken on our lives is unbelievable."

Another cousin Sharon Hancock said her life had not been the same since her death and her youngest son Dylan, 18, read a poem about his mother that he had written when he was 12, on behalf of himself and his two older brothers Doug, 22, and Dustin, 20.

Cartledge-Carter's husband of 21 years Randy said that she wasn't just his wife but his soul mate.
"I thought we would grow old together... Loosing Wendy has been the hardest thing in my life. I still miss her every day being by my side."

Her sister Cindi Calies told the jurors that she talked to her sister when she was still in her mother's stomach and she named her Wendy after the little girl in the "Casper the Friendly Ghost" cartoon.
"Sometimes I find myself picking up the phone to call her... I miss her so much."

Several jurors sobbed audibly when Cartledge-Carter's elderly father William read a statement from himself and his wife Betty, the victim's mother.

"I know I'll meet her in heaven one day and she will have her arms open to welcome me. We will always love and miss her until we meet her again."

The penalty phase of the trial is scheduled to continue this week.

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