Markus Lee must have nine lives. A judge could have sentenced him Thursday to five years in prison for resisting arrest and leading police on a 10-minute, high-speed chase in a Prius (really, and props to Lee for signaling every turn) last July. But Lee escaped with 120 days of "shock time," and if he behaves, he'll have the chance to get out of prison with two to five years of probation.
Lee better thank his defense attorney, Molly Hastings, who argued: "I think the elephant in the room is that this is Markus Lee." Yes, Markus Lee, who authorities believe has beat three murder raps. "Mr. Lee should not be over-punished in this case simply because the state believes he has been under-punished in the past."
Assistant Jackson County Prosecutor Michael Hunt argued that Lee had
been given enough chances.
"Mr. Lee and I have known each other for a while, and I find him to be a
charming man," Hunt told the court. "His history is well-known. He's
asking for a second chance, and the problem is, he's had it. ... The
problem is, we're right back here."
Hunt wanted Lee locked up for five years. Hastings wasn't having it.
"This is a Class D felony," Hastings said. "This is the kind of case
that ... we could have resolved across the street with an offer of
probation. It is a nonviolent offense, a case in which no one was
injured or hurt. This is a sentencing for a defendant who has no prior
violent felony convictions and has had no felony convictions in the last
11 years. However, this is Markus Lee. ... What I am asking for, judge,
is that the punishment in this case fit the crime he is being sentenced
for. And I am asking for probation."
Hastings continued that she understood the state's position and acknowledged that Lee isn't an angel.
"But I also think that their request has very little to do with this
case and everything to do with their prior experiences with Markus, and
I think it has to do with their inability to secure a conviction over
the last decade against him," she said.
Not all of the news today was good for Lee.
Earlier this month, a
Missouri appeals court opened the door for Lee to be tried again
for murder in the Mach 2007 drive-by killing of Eliseo Thomas. The Star reported that prosecutors plan to retry Lee in the case once it clears the appeals court.
Pitch writer Nadia Pflaum wrote the definitive story on Lee in
November 2010 (read
it by clicking here).