Settlement talks underway for woman convicted in LeBrane attack

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by Jamie Grey

NWCN.com

Posted on February 4, 2014 at 6:49 PM

CALDWELL -- More than a decade after Linda LeBrane was brutally attacked and left for dead along Interstate 84, one of the convicted suspects, Sarah Pearce, was back in court today.

In court today, the state discussed a possible settlement offer to Pearce, though not many details of what that deal may include are publicly known at this time. Attorneys spent a lot of time behind closed doors.

Pearce insists she was mistakenly identified by the victim in a police lineup.

This was not just a routine hearing.  Sarah Pearce, her attorneys and the Idaho Innocence Project, say new evidence and witnesses could end her decade-long ordeal in prison.

Pearce was in a Canyon County courtroom today.  It was the first time we've seen her in these proceedings.

Pearce's mother, Anita Brown, has always fought for her daughter's freedom, which she says is getting closer.

"This morning I got up, I thought about the 12 years my daughter was in prison for her life," said Brown.  "This afternoon, there is a possible resolution to this and an end. So I can, by the grace of God, and the help of these people and my family, I can say that at some point in time my daughter will be coming home."

Pearce was convicted of six felonies in 2003, including aiding and abetting the attempted murder of LeBrane in 2000.  She was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

In 2009, Pearce asked the Idaho Supreme Court to grant her a new trial. That appeal was rejected.

Again, we don't have a lot of details about what type of offer is being made.  County officials say that it has to do with sentencing, and not Pearce's guilt or innocence.

Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Taylor issued this statement in regard to the Sarah Pearce case:

“It is not the practice of my Office to discuss the details of any negotiations involving a pending case.  However, I will confirm that my deputies have met with attorneys for the petitioner in this post-conviction case and have reached a tentative agreement to modify the sentence.  Until the presiding Judge has had opportunity to review and approve the terms of any proposed agreement that might be reached, I believe it would be inappropriate for this Office, or any other person, to further speculate about the terms or consequences of any agreement.  Premature discussion on the details of our negotiations could impact any proposed resolution that that might be sought in furtherance of final justice in this litigation.  That said, any offer made by my Office in this case would be necessarily premised on the fact that Sarah Pearce was convicted by a jury of her peers after trial in open court.  Sarah Pearce’s guilt is not at issue in this matter and we will not compromise on that fact, or agree to any settlement term that minimizes the tremendous impact this heinous crime had on its Victim or on our community’s sense of safety and security.  A settlement agreement that first satisfies those conditions and protects the Victim’s right to be heard would be an agreement we would then weigh against the other purposes of criminal justice, and the best interests of Canyon County.“

No deal was finalized in open court today. We are told that it could be a few more weeks before we know what kind of offer was made, if it was accepted, and what it means for Pearce.

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