Verdict expected Thursday for man accused of stealing from Miller County Circuit Judge

Lawrence Hubbard

Closing arguments in the trial of a Houston man accused of burglarizing the home of Miller County Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson are scheduled for Thursday morning.

Lawrence Hubbard, 42, denies he had anything to do with the March 21, 2014 theft of jewelry and guns from Judge Johnson and Deborah Johnson’s house on Jack Cullen Drive in Texarkana, Ark., despite having already plead guilty to three strikingly similar crimes committed the same morning in Texarkana, Texas.

Members of Texarkana, Texas and Ark., police testified they first responded to an alarm at the Johnson home at 8:19 a.m. A large amount of family heirloom jewelry and handguns were taken. A pillow case missing from the master bedroom was presumably used to carry away some of the Johnson’s belongings, witnesses testified.

“I was devastated,” Deborah Johnson said of discovering pieces of jewelry belonging to her mother, grandmother and great grandmother were stolen.

A short time later, homes on Ridge Row and Shilling Circle in Texarkana, Texas were burglarized in the same way. Texarkana, Texas police responded to a 911 call from a homeowner in the 6000 block of North Park Road who had locked herself in a bathroom while intruders ransacked her house. Hubbard was arrested while trying to flee.

Not long after Hubbard was arrested, police responded to the 7000 block of North Park Road and arrested Willie Powell, 35, and Lamarcus Lavigne, 26. Both men were wearing clothes which still had dry cleaning tags with the name of a homeowner stapled to the fabric. Inside a house in the 7000 block of North Park, investigators recovered sweat pants and shoes Powell and Lavigne had left behind when they attempted to change their appearance.

Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Black described Hubbard’s Bowie County plea bargain–14 years for three burglaries–as a “sweet deal,” when she cross examined Hubbard Wednesday. Powell and Lavigne each received 16-year sentences for four burglaries as part of plea bargains in Bowie County. Hubbard is the only man who agreed to be extradited to Arkansas from Texas. Warrants remain active in Miller County for Powell and Lavigne.

Stephanie Parker, 34, was arrested about a week after the burglaries. Parker testified that she was supposed to be paid $500 for driving the men around wealthy neighborhoods in Texarkana. Hubbard claims the burglaries were Parker’s idea while Parker testified Hubbard, Powell and Lavigne traveled to Texarkana to commit burglaries and solicited her help.

Stephanie Black asked Hubbard if he decided to deny his role in the Johnson burglary when he realized he’d stolen from a judge and that he might not get a plea deal in Miller County like the one he received in Bowie County. Hubbard insisted that the other defendants must have broken into Johnson’s house before he awoke or while he was “dozing” in the car.

A jury of six men and six women is expected to decide whether Hubbard participated in the burglary of the Johnson home after hearing closing arguments Thursday morning. If the jury finds Hubbard guilty, the trial will enter a second phase during which the jury will hear testimony and arguments concerning the punishment Hubbard should receive for residential burglary and theft of property.

Hubbard faces five to 40 years on each charge.

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