3 indicted for murder in Union County attack

Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 5:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 5:32 p.m.

A grand jury handed down first-degree murder indictments Wednesday against three people accused in a brutal attack earlier this month in Union County.

The Jan. 6 home invasion, which investigators say stemmed in part from a driveway paving dispute, left William Couch, 69, dead and his wife, Connie Sue Couch, 39, injured in their Lake Butler home.

The grand jury indicted Amanda Lee Jeffrey, 30, of Raiford, Michael Lynn Pierce Jr., 26, and Lavar Monte Thompson, 31, both of Starke, on first-degree murder charges and various other charges.

According to the indictments, the trio entered the house on Northeast 118th Street and stole various items including jewelry, electronics, money and the couple’s Chevrolet Equinox.

During the robbery, the three beat and stabbed William Couch in the face and body, the indictment states. Couch later died from his wounds during surgery at Shands at the University of Florida.

Union County Sheriff Jerry Whitehead previously said that officials believed the attack was connected to a dispute over payment with a crew Couch had hired to pave his driveway the day before. One of the suspects was on that paving crew, investigators said.

Jeffrey drove Pierce and Thompson to the house at around 8:30 a.m., where they tied up the couple, officials said. They then led the couple to the Couches’ travel trailer, where they held them captive while continuing to beat William Couch.

Investigators have said they don’t think Connie Sue Couch was badly injured because the couple’s 3-year-old daughter was nearby.

The intruders ransacked the house, burned down the camper and then stole the couple’s vehicle, which later was found burned near a cemetery in Bradford County.

All three also were indicted on charges of home invasion robbery with a firearm and burglary of an occupied conveyance with a firearm, assault and battery.

Pierce also was indicted on a charge of aggravated assault with intent to commit sexual battery. He and Thompson were indicted on two counts of kidnapping and a count of arson of a dwelling.

State Attorney William Cervone said Wednesday he is considering seeking the death penalty against the three defendants in the case.

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