Jailhouse confession alleged in court | TheUnion.com

Jailhouse confession alleged in court

The prosecution in the Lauren Hayes manslaughter trial called two former Placer County Jail prisoners Thursday to testify in court that while Hayes was behind bars, she admitted to killing Lawrence Leffingwell.

Former inmate Carla Huffman, a woman who talked with Hayes through jail air vents – her “vent partner” – said Hayes told her she planned to rob Leffingwell with the promise of sex and the help of male accomplices.

“She set it up,” Huffman said. “She went to meet the old man and she said they were gonna have sex.”

When Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Ron Wolfson asked Huffman who Hayes said killed Leffingwell, Huffman said “she shot him,” and that Hayes never changed that part of her story.

Hayes pleaded guilty to charges of voluntary manslaughter, grand theft and possession of a firearm earlier this month and is facing a sentence of 5 to 13 years in prison for the crimes. She is scheduled for sentencing after a series of evidentiary hearings are complete by the end of April.

Huffman, who was in jail for grand theft when she met Hayes in Sept. 2003, received no deal from prosecutors in her case for offering up information on Hayes.

“She said it was a robbery gone bad,” Huffman said.

During cross examination, Huffman admitted she and Hayes did not get along in jail.

“Me and two other girls were the only blacks in county (jail),” Huffman said, “and (Hayes) let us know. She was always making racist comments.”

Huffman also admitted she was accused of making threats against Hayes approximately one month after Hayes was incarcerated.

Hayes’ former jail cellmate Cyndi Upton testified that Hayes confessed to the killing only in writings and drawings.

“There was a murder,” Upton said describing one of Hayes’ drawings. “An older man got killed down by the river.”

She said Hayes drew a truck and a car, along with a “glob” of gray hair by the truck’s toolbox.

Nevada County Public Defender Thomas Anderson said Hayes was too scared to talk to Upton, so she communicated with her mainly through pictures.

Upton, a self-proclaimed “Aryan sister” with a covered tattoo of a swastika on her hand, said she was moved from the cell she shared with Hayes after Hayes complained to jail staff that Upton was repeatedly punching the door to the cell.

“She had enough of me hitting the door,” Upton said.

Anderson said in an earlier hearing that the “jailhouse snitches” lack credibility because of their animosity toward Hayes.

Anderson said he has not yet decided whether Hayes should take the stand, but he has not ruled out the possibility. He maintains that Hayes was an unwilling accomplice in the murder of Lawrence Leffingwell, and someone else is responsible for the killing.

He said she accepted the plea bargain earlier this month because she did not want to risk being sentenced to life in prison.

The presentencing hearings will continue 9 a.m. Tuesday in Nevada County Superior Court.

To contact Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@theunion.com or call 477-4236.

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