Tijuana Michelle Lesesne, 31, entered the plea in Sampson County Superior Court less than a month after pleading not guilty to accessory after the fact to murder and obstructing justice charges in the fatal shooting of Mercedes Lou Wilson, 16, at the Sunoco in Clinton Sept. 2, 2006.
As part of the guilty plea, Lesesne had the accessory charge dismissed by the District Attorney’s Office. Felony charges of embezzlement and possession of stolen goods in the other case were also dropped.
Lesesne’s attorney, Freddie Hall, addressed the accusations against his client and said it was regrettable what transpired the night of Wilson’s murder.
“She’s extremely sorry for any involvement she may have had in the case,” said Hall. “The bottom line is she eventually did come clean in her statements. Due to the seriousness of the charges, we felt this plea was in her best interest.”
State prosecutors said Lesesne withheld information about the identity of the shooter, Lamar Demond Smith, 33, and information that could have led to his immediate apprehension. Smith would be arrested in Raleigh exactly a month after the shooting.
A jury found Smith guilty of Wilson’s murder at the beginning of this year and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
State prosecutors said Lesesne told investigators she did not know who the shooter was and did not cooperate with them. Several days after the shooting, Lesesne finally told a detective by phone that she knew the shooter was Smith, Assistant District Attorney Arneatha Gillis said.
“She wasn’t trying to protect him, but she was afraid she would be harmed if she said anything,” Hall explained.
Lesesne’s attorney also mentioned the verbal altercation Lesesne had with one of Wilson’s friends outside the Sunoco just before the shots rang out. Lesesne accused the group of loitering, but prosecutors said Wilson and her friends had been there only a couple minutes.
“She’s sorry for that too,” Hall remarked.
In stating the facts against Lesesne, Gillis also mentioned the larceny by employee case, which occurred when Lesesne was working as a clerk at the Spirit convenience store in Clinton. During the incident, Lesesne was to make a bank deposit for the business of $4,106.50. She only deposited $986.50, a difference of $3,120, Gillis pointed out.
When investigators confronted her about the missing money, she said she had nothing to do with it. Gillis said analysis of a deposit ticket showed that the handwriting matched Lesesne’s.
Following the plea, presiding Superior Court Judge W. Allen Cobb Jr. sentenced Lesesne to serve a minimum of eight and maximum of 10 months for obstructing justice, and a minimum of six and maximum of eight months for the larceny charge. Cobb said the sentences will run concurrently, “one with the other.”
The judge also ordered Lesesne pay restitution of $4,350, which included the missing money amount and attorney fees.
Lesesne made no official statements during the plea hearing, except for saying “yes” when Cobb asked if she was, in fact, guilty to the charges against her, a formality in such proceedings.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 121, or by email at email@example.com.