Prosecutors are seeking a longer-than-normal sentence for a woman who led police into an ambush in her Fort Mill home, where her fugitive boyfriend shot a police officer.
Kirstie Barratt, 22, in jail since the Jan. 7 incident, pleaded guilty in October to a single count of lying to police when she told a federal agent that James William Lewis was not in a bedroom she had just left. Minutes later, officers were met with gunfire when they entered the room, and a Charlotte police officer was hit.
The federal charge Barratt pleaded to carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, but her attorney, Julia Mimms of Charlotte, said in October that Barratt already might have served the time she would normally get under federal sentencing guidelines. The guidelines are used by judges to look at sentencing in all cases, but judges have discretion to vary from them as they see fit.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Haynes filed court documents Wednesday asking Senior U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Anderson to impose a harsher sentence because Barratt’s lies to the cops led to the shooting. Barratt is scheduled to be sentenced in Anderson’s courtroom in Columbia on Monday.
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When Barratt pleaded guilty in October, Haynes told Anderson that Barratt knew police were seeking Lewis for the Dec. 12, 2013, robbery of a Pineville, N.C., fast food restaurant, and that the couple had agreed that they would hide in the attic if police showed up.
On Jan. 7, Haynes said, Barratt only came to the door of the home after police had waited outside for 15 minutes. She claimed she hadn’t seen Lewis for weeks and allowed police to search the first floor of the house. When officers went upstairs, they asked Barratt to secure a barking dog in a bedroom. She went into the room and got the dog, closing the door behind her. She did not tell officers that Lewis was inside in the bedroom and armed, Haynes said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Shane Page – a member of a fugitive apprehension team that included federal, state and local officers – was shot by Lewis in the shoulder and abdomen, prosecutors say, and spent several days in the hospital. Lewis was shot in the legs as officers returned fire. Page left the police department earlier this year after his recovery, CMPD spokesman Rob Tufano said.
Barratt “put officers in grave danger” and “knew that a fugitive was waiting for them, armed with a firearm,” Haynes wrote in court documents.
Judge Anderson on Wednesday advised Barratt and her lawyer of Haynes’ plan to ask for a longer sentence.
“It sounds pretty bad about letting law enforcement officers walk in there when there was a man with a gun,” Anderson said during the October hearing.
Efforts to reach Mimms for comment were unsuccessful this week.
Barratt, born in England and facing deportation because of the felony, has no other criminal record.
‘May have been insane’
Meanwhile, Lewis is being tested for mental competency after his lawyer, federal public defender Kathy Evatt, claimed he may have been insane at the time he allegedly shot Officer Page.
Lewis, 32, of Kings Mountain, N.C., has previous convictions for cocaine possession and stealing cars. In May, he pleaded guilty in federal court in Charlotte to the 2013 armed robbery of the Pineville restaurant. He has not been sentenced for that crime, and both he and his lawyer signed documents in May in front of a federal judge saying Lewis was capable of pleading guilty.
Lewis, who told authorities after his arrest that he had been homeless for two years, still faces federal charges for the shooting of Page, as well as state charges including attempted murder in York County. He faces up to 32 years in prison on federal charges, his lawyer said in court in October.
But Evatt now claims that Lewis has been treated for mental illness for at least 10 years. She wrote in a Dec. 2 court filing that Lewis “may be suffering from a mental disease or defect that could mean Lewis may not understand the charges against him.”
Lewis “may have been insane at the time of the alleged offenses,” Evatt wrote.
Last week, Judge Anderson ordered mental competency testing for Lewis.