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Natasha Cornett - LILLELID MURDERS - Handwritten Letter and Envelope


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On April 6, 1997, Cornett, then 18 years old, and five friends/fellow disaffected youths—Edward Dean Mullins, 19; Joseph Lance Risner, 20; Crystal R. Sturgill, 18; Jason Blake Bryant, 14; and Karen R. Howell, 17—took to the road in Joseph's beat-up Chevrolet Citation. They were hoping to start new lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, where Natasha had spent a few weeks visiting with a friend following the end of her marriage.

Along the way, they met the Lillelid family at an interstate highway rest area in Greeneville, Tennessee: Norway-born Vidar Lillelid, 34; his Honduran-American wife Delfina, 28; their daughter Tabitha, 6; and son Peter, 2. The Lillelids were Jehovah's Witnesses, and they were dedicated to proselytizing their faith to others, including the young people they encountered at the rest area. Cornett and her friends wanted to steal the family's van, having already discussed possibly car-jacking a bigger and more dependable vehicle to replace their cramped and likely unreliable Citation.

At gunpoint, the family was forced back into their van and ordered to drive to a deserted road in nearby Baileyton, Tennessee, where they were shot execution style by 14-year-old Jason Bryant and possibly other male members of the group. After the shooting, the group abandoned their own vehicle and left in the Lillelid family's van. Soon after they drove off, police found Vidar and Delfina dead at the scene; Tabitha died after being transported to the hospital. Peter, who was found lying in a ditch, was the only survivor. He had been shot once in the torso and once through the eye. As a result of the shooting, he was left blind in one eye and permanently disabled.

Two days after the shootings, the six perpetrators in the Lillelid family's stolen van were taken into custody by US Customs and Immigration officials in Arizona, having been ordered by Mexican police to return to the United States for entering Mexico without proper papers.

The trial began and proceeded, but before the case could go to the jury, the district attorney, Berkeley Bell, decided to offer a deal to the defendants: plead guilty and receive life without parole instead of risking execution if the jury found them guilty and then imposed the death penalty. On March 13, 1998, Natasha and her co-defendants pleaded guilty to all charges against them, thereby avoiding the possible death sentences for her and the three others who were 18 or older. Due to their status as minors, Howell and Bryant were already ineligible for the death penalty, but they accepted the deal on advice on counsel. Although Natasha took the plea bargain, court testimony established that she did not do the actual shooting of the four victims. During her own testimony, Cornett claimed she tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent the deaths. In accordance with the agreement she had entered into, Natasha received three sentences of life without the possibility of parole and two additional sentences of 25 years—one each for attempted murder and kidnapping.

Two page handwritten letter. Letter is general content and is signed Natasha. Original matching handwritten envelope is included.

Product Code: NCORNETT20211E


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