Lora Leanne Wooten is loaded on a stretcher Aug. 7 after crash-landing on the Trenton town square after a high-speed police chase. She negotiated a guilty plea Thursday on multiple charges.
Courtroom drama is common in movies and television but thin on the ground in real life--at least in Dade County, where yet another high-profile case ended Thursday in anticlimax. Lora Leanne Wooten, the Alabama woman who on Aug. 7 led law officers in a high-speed chase that deprived Dade's Maj. Tommy Bradford of one leg below the knee, quietly turned in a guilty plea at the Jan. 10 calendar call preceding next week's special January session of Dade Superior Court.
Ms. Wooten faced a lineup of 19 charges in Dade County including everything from bringing stolen property into the state--the police chase started after she allegedly stole a compressor in Fort Payne--to assault on an officer to bad tires. Her attorneys, David Dunn and Jennifer Hartline of the Lookout Mountain Public Defender's Office, negotiated for her a sentence of consecutive, merged and concurrent prison terms for the separate counts that amount to 40 years total, 15 to be spent behind bars and the rest on probation.
Restitution is to be determined after all medical expenses are totaled, according to the final disposition of the case.
The charges against Ms. Wooten, 35 at the time of her wild drive down Highway 11, included one for driving under the influence of controlled substances, for which she was sentenced to a year to be served concurrently with the five she got for fleeing from police. Absent a trial, the drugs--unidentified in court papers--are the only hint of a reason for the strange events of Aug.7.
But those events led to tragedy for Maj. Bradford, the second-in-command at the Dade Sheriff's office; Ms. Wooten mowed him down on Highway 11 as he laid spike strips two miles south of downtown Trenton. That generated the most serious of the charges. Also listed in the indictment against Ms. Wooten were accusations she used her vehicle as a deadly weapon when she drove it at Alabama law officers. In the negotiated plea, she ended by pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated battery on a police officer, for which she received two merged sentences of 20 years apiece, five to be served behind bars.
(Photo: Maj. Bradfor at the 2018 Dade High homecoming parade.
The other 20 years are an accumulation of five-year sentences for eluding police and 12-month terms for the lesser charges, including improper passing, reckless driving and no proof of insurance.
Superior Court Judge Brian House presided over the Jan. 10 proceedings.
Left on the docket for Dade Superior Court's January term next week are a number of drug cases interspersed with some for burglary, battery or child molestation. The highest-profile of those is against a Dade substitute teacher, Amanda Pardue, accused of child molestation and internet pornography.
The indictment against Ms. Pardue accuses her of using Snapchat to entice three boys under 16; that also using Snapchat she sent them an "explicit verbal description of her desire to have sexual intercourse, sexual conduct"; that she sent them a text or texts to the same effect; that she furnished them a photograph of her breasts; and that she sent one of them "a video visual representation of the accused touching her vagina."
The January Superior Court term begins Monday. A short list of trials is not yet available.