Tuesday December 5th, 2023 7:31PM

Woman accused of beating lover to death pleads guilty

By The Associated Press
<p>A woman accused of murdering her millionaire lover has pleaded guilty to reduced charge, just as a third trial in her case was set to begin.</p><p>Dionne Baugh, 36, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter Monday in the death of 41-year-old Lance Herndon, the chief executive officer of the Roswell computer consulting firm, Access Inc., who was repeatedly beaten with a blunt object inside his Roswell mansion in 1996.</p><p>The plea was part of an agreement with prosecutors, as both sides prepared to select their third jury in eight years.</p><p>Baugh was convicted of murder in 2001, but that conviction was later thrown out by the Georgia Supreme Court after justices ruled that disputed trial testimony from a police detective should not have been allowed. Last November, a judge declared a mistrial after the second go-around because the jury was hopelessly deadlocked.</p><p>Fulton Superior Court Judge Isaac Jenrette sentenced Baugh to 10 years in prison, followed up 10 years of probation. If convicted of murder at trial, she would have received an automatic life sentence.</p><p>Prosecutors said Baugh crushed her lover's skull in a rage at his mansion in Aug. 8, 1996, because he had planned to cut off their relationship and her access to his credit cards and Mercedes. Prosecutors claimed proof included a strand of Baugh's hair found on Herndon's body, her DNA found under his fingernails and the fact she had a laptop computer missing from his home.</p><p>Baugh had denied the accusations. There were no witnesses to the slaying, and she said she borrowed the computer.</p><p>After Baugh entered the plea Monday, the judge asked her if she had anything to say.</p><p>"She has no comment," her attorney Tony Axam told the judge as he stood by her side.</p><p>District Attorney Paul Howard said he agreed to the plea to avoid putting the Herndon family through another trial. Prosecutors also faced obstacles because the lead investigator died this month.</p><p>After the hearing, the victim's mother, Jackie Herndon, said she was glad the case was finally resolved. "My son was a good child, a loving child," she said. "He got caught up with this woman who was greedy and out of control."</p><p>___</p><p>HASH(0x2866228)</p>
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