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NEW INFO: Husband Guilty of 'Crickett' Lee's Murder; Gets Life

By: Cathleen Moxley, Randy Yohe, Melanie Chapman Email
By: Cathleen Moxley, Randy Yohe, Melanie Chapman Email

UPDATE 10/10/12 @ 6:30 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A national crusader for women bikers and their many good causes was stabbed to death in her bed last year.

On Wednesday, a jury found her husband guilty of murder. In the emotional case involving Charles "Steve" Lee and his wife "Crickett," it took a jury just 40 minutes to find Steve Lee guilty.

The railroad engineer and motorcycle rider told detectives he was out for a pre-dawn drive when someone came in his home and murdered his activist wife, Leslie Lanham-Lee.

She was known to her Borrowed Angels Charity Riders as Crickett. It’s a story prosecutors say was full of holes that the jury simply did not believe.

The prosecution team says the timeline and the condition of Crickett's body in the couple's Greenup home showed Steve Lee killed her and then staged an alibi. They say only Steve Lee could have killed with Crickett’s protective pit bull mix dog Pandy in the home -- a dog that mysteriously vanished then was found later.

Also, there were the many love letter emails the jury saw from Steve Lee to his ex-wife Tonya Hunt -- emails sent just days before the killing. They stated, "As soon as I get stuff done and over with, we'll be together soon for a new beginning."

“The rigor mortis could not have set in to that degree during the time that he said it did, and food was still in her stomach," Prosecutor Cliff Duvall said. "It is obvious he was the only one there in the apartment -- by his own admission -- and the only one that could have killed her."

Lead detective David Bocook added, “From first contact with him, where he had his shirt on backward, his demeanor and actions completely spoke that he was deceptive form the word go.”

After the quick guilty verdict, hugs of joy cut through the sorrow from Crickett Lee's family and her Borrowed Angel sisters. They all remembered a dedicated, giving woman’s life cut way too short.

Borrowed Angel Sheila Shain spoke for the group.

"We're thrilled with the verdict," Shain said. "Nothing will bring our sister back, but knowing the man who murdered her will be behind bars is at least some sort of justice.”

Fran Lanham, who is Crickett Lee's cousin, said, "She's not coming back, and I feel so happy and so sad that someone she trusted so much took her from us, and he's getting what he deserves."

Before the sentencing, Steve Lee's lawyer Jonah Stevens begged for mercy -- at least for the guilty man's suffering family.

“If it's 20 years in prison, the minimum range, we know that he will certainly age in there," Stevens said.

But the jury came back a second time, recommending that Steve Lee serve life in prison.

That's the sentence Judge Bob Conley ordered -- life in prison.
Steve Lee will not get a parole hearing for 20 years.

Steve Lee's family and lawyer declined to be interviewed.

The Borrowed Angels, hailing from West Virginia, Kentucky, Florida and beyond, say they'll come back to the Greenup area soon and go to a hospital children's ward. They said they will take gifts to the kids -- all in the name of their hero Crickett Lee.



UPDATE 10/10/12 @ 2:22 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Just hours after being found guilty, Charles "Steve" Lee has been sentenced to life in prison.

Steve Lee was found guilty of murder by jurors about Noon on Wednesday.

The court broke for lunch after the verdict was returned, and returned an hour later for sentencing.

Lee was found guilty of murdering his wife, Leslie "Crickett" Lanham-Lee, at her home in March 2011. Judge Bob Conley sentenced Lee to life in prison. Lee will be eligible for parole in 20 years by Kentucky law.

We have a crew in the courtroom and will have the latest on the verdict and sentencing tonight at 5 and 6.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/10/12 @ 12:02 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Charles "Steve" Lee has been found guilty of murder in connection with the death of his wife Leslie "Crickett" Lee-Lanham.

Jurors reached a verdict in about 45 minutes after receiving the case at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday.

Steve Lee was charged with murdering his wife, Leslie "Crickett" Lanham-Lee at her home in Greenup County, Ky. back in March of 2011.

The murder trial began on October 1.

The court will take a lunch break, and starting at 1 p.m. the sentencing phase will begin. A short hearing will be held, then Steve Lee will be sentenced for the crime.

We have a crew in the courtroom.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/10/12 @ 11:53 a.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The jury has reached a verdict in the murder trial of Charles "Steve" Lee.

Steve Lee is charged with murdering his wife, Leslie "Crickett" Lanham-Lee at her home in Greenup County, Ky. back in March of 2011.

Everyone has been called back to the courtroom to await the reading of the verdict.

We have a crew in the courtroom and will bring you the verdict as soon as it is handed down.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/10/12 @ 10:15 a.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The prosecution has wrapped up their closing argument in the murder case of Charles "Steve" Lee.

Steve Lee is charged with murdering his wife, Leslie "Crickett" Lanham-Lee at her home in Greenup County, Ky. back in March of 2011.

The defense asked the judge for a one hour recess to prepare for their closing argument -- which was granted.

Instructions were also given to jurors Wednesday morning. The judge explained that it is up to the jury to decide if Steve Lee is guilty or not guilty of murder.

The trial began on October 1.

Jurors should have the case before lunch. If convicted of murder, Lee faces 20 years to life.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/10/12
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- On Wednesday, a jury could begin deciding the fate of a Greenup County man charged with murdering his wife.

Charles “Steve” Lee is charged with murdering his wife, Leslie "Crickett" Lanham-Lee at her home in Greenup County, Ky. back in March of 2011.

Lee told police in March, when “Crickett” was murdered, that he took an early morning drive and came back and found her stabbed to death in bed.

Lee was arrested and charged with her murder on October 27, 2011.

The defense wrapped up their case Tuesday afternoon. Lee did not testify in his own defense. The trial began October 1.

Closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday morning. The jury is then expected to get the case.

If convicted of murder, Lee faces 20 years to life.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/8/12 @ 8:15 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Testimony of a jailhouse murder confession highlighted the Charles “Steve” Lee murder trial, as the prosecution rested its case Monday afternoon.

Lee is the railroad engineer and biker accused of stabbing his second wife -- Charleston area native and women biker crusader Leslie "Crickett" Lanham-Lee to death at their Greenup home in March 2011.

Crickett's women's biker group, the Borrowed Angels, came in mass support on Monday. Testimony keyed on the couple's watch dog -- and that jailhouse confession.

We heard earlier in the trial that in the 911 call, Steve Lee told dispatchers that he was out for a pre-dawn drive when someone came in and murdered his wife. Steve Lee said his dog Pandy was even gone.

But friends of Crickett's testified that no one could have attacked her without her protective pit bull mix Pandy attacking them first. And police say there was no sign of a struggle at the murder scene.

With a court room laden with emotion, one of Crickett’s Borrowed Angels Charity Rider co-founders testified about Crickett's devotion to help others. And she told us again that Crickett said Steve was unfaithful.

Jail trustee Joe Edgar Davis testified that Steve Lee confessed to killing his wife; Davis said that happened when he and Steve Lee were behind bars together.

"He acted like he was about to cry," Davis said. "He said he killed her, but didn't know how they were going to prove it because they had no evidence against him.”

Borrowed Angel member Sheila Swain testified, “There is no way someone that didn't know Crickett got into that apartment and hurt her without Pandy going berserk. Someone would have got a good hunk of skin removed from their body."

Davis testified that Steve Lee also told him, "I should have killed that dog, too."

The medical examiner testified that Crickett Lee had no drugs or alcohol in her body. He said she died from blood loss from the two stab wounds to the neck.

The defense begins its case in the Charles Lee murder trial on Tuesday.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 10/2/12 @ 5:45 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- They called her Crickett
She was a crusader for women bikers everywhere, until she was stabbed to death in her bed.

WSAZ.com covered the crime back when it happened in March 2011. On Tuesday, we heard day one of testimony at the murder trial for the victim’s husband.

Charles Steve Lee and Leslie "Crickett" Lanham-Lee were all about Harleys. The prosecutor hit that point hard.

Some have questioned the husband’s fidelity, while others say Crickett had issues with outlaw bikers.

The case against Steve Lee is largely circumstantial, and those circumstances began to unfold Tuesday morning.

The Greenup County 911 dispatcher says it was just before 7 that March morning when Steve Lee called. Lee told police he had just returned from a little drive. He said his wife was sleeping when he left and dead when he returned.

Audio from a 911 call was played in the courtroom with Steve Lee's voice. He said his wife was face down on the bed with blood under her. He also mentioned that his dog was gone.

But prosecutors say Lee's story has many inconsistencies. First responders testified that Lee, who was frantic at first, became calm and stayed calm as they examined his wife's body.

Showing scene picture after picture, the lead detective in the case testified that nothing besides the death bed in the Lee apartment was disturbed -- that there was no robbery.

Steve Lee says he left the front door unlocked as he went on his drive.

Detective David Bocook said Crickett's fingernails were still long and clean after the stabbing, and that was telling.

“It indicated to me there was no struggle," Bocook said.

Her supporters say Crickett Lee led the Borrowed Angels charity riders -- women bikers dedicated to helping others in need. Those supporters and family members say Steve Lee was unfaithful to his wife in the months before her murder.

In testimony, the 911 dispatcher said Steve Lee last spoke to his wife at 2:30 a.m. First responders said Lee said it was 4:30 am.

All of the testimony was from the prosecution's case; the defense will present its case later.

Leslie "Crickett" Lanham-Lee also led a child abuse prevention movement and was honored by the Kentucky legislature for helping troops home from war.

The Charles Lee murder trial is expected to last two weeks.



UPDATE 10/1/12 @ Noon
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The trial for the man charged with murdering his wife is getting underway Monday.

Jury selection started at 9 a.m. in Greenup County Circuit Court for the trial of Charles Steven Lee.

Lee is accused murdering his wife, Leslie "Crickett" Lanham-Lee at her home in Greenup County, Ky. back in March of 2011. Lee told police in March, when Crickett was murdered, that he took an early morning drive and came back and found her stabbed to death in bed.

The trial is expected to last for several days this week and possibly last for several days next week. Opening statements could begin Monday.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information on the trial.



UPDATE 11/10/11 @ 6:45 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A man charged with his wife’s murder made his first appearance in front of a judge Thursday.

Just two weeks ago, Steven Lee was arrested and charged with his wife's murder. Leslie Lanham-Lee, better known as Crickett, was found stabbed to death in her home in Greenup County, Kentucky in March.

Crickett was found by her husband, Charles Steven Lee, who said he left home early that morning to go for a drive.

WSAZ.com was in court Thursday afternoon, where Lee not only faced a judge, but also his wife's many supporters.

Lee pleaded not guilty and was quickly escorted back to jail, just as Crickett's many supporters showed up.

Crickett, a Charleston, West Virginia native, co-founded the Borrowed Angels, a national group of women bikers dedicated to fighting violence and helping others.

Some of Crickett's family and members of the borrowed angels tell WSAZ.com Lee was unfaithful to Crickett.

“Crickett was concerned about Steve’s fidelity. He confessed that he was having an affair with his ex-wife.” said Sheila Shain

Last month, Crickett's sister Michelle Nichols told WSAZ.Com she became close to her sister's husband after meeting Lee at Crickett’s funeral and is hoping for the right outcome.

“I want the right justice, I want the right person, not an innocent person.” said Nichols.

But members of Crickett's family and friends said the two sisters were estranged and accused Nicolas of becoming more than friends with Lee.

“On her facebook page she says they have been romantically involved, as soon as 90 days after Crickett's death,” said Sheila Shain.

With only circumstantial evidence, prosecutor Cliff Duvall said taking several extra months with a grand jury before Steve Lee's indictment was helpful.

“I felt that the mood in circumstantial cases was to turn every little stone over and see what you can find. And we did that. We found things that we did not know, things that were useful,” said Duvall

Lee is jailed in lieu of a $350,000 cash bond. His pretrial hearing is set for Mid-January.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 11/10/11 @ 1:50 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A man charged with his wife's murder has pleaded not guilty.

Charles Steven Lee was arraigned Thursday in a Greenup County, Ky. courtroom.

Lee is charged with the death of his wife Leslie Lanham-Lee, better known to friends and family as Crickett.

Steven Lee told police in March, when Crickett was murdered, that he took an early morning drive and came back and found her stabbed to death in bed.

Steven Lee was arrested and charged with her murder on October 27.

He is being held on a $350,000 cash bond.

A pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for January 12.

Neither Steven Lee nor his attorney would make a comment to WSAZ.com at the hearing.

Crickett was 40-years-old.



UPDATE 10/30/11
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- When it comes to the murder of a loved one, an arrest can be the first step to closure. However, one family sees it as a step back. That's because they believe the man behind bars is innocent.

Charles Steven Lee was arrested Thursday in connection with murdering his wife, Leslie Lanham-Lee who was stabbed to death in her own bed this past March.

Lanham-Lee left her family in Charleston about four years ago, and moved to Greenup County Kentucky where she's known as “Crickett.” Her sister, Michelle Nichols, didn’t know that until her funeral.

“We were estranged for about four years, so it was hard. That was another reason to look at this man and get to know who was this "Crickett."

The man she's speaking of is Crickett's husband, whom she met at her memorial service. Nichols had some questions for Lee, and says she was surprised by what she learned.

“He loves her still to this day with everything he has. You can see that,” Nichols said.

Lee claims he wasn't home when Crickett was murdered early in the morning. While some don't buy his alibi, Nichols does. She has become close to Lee over the past several months and says when you look at his job as a train engineer; it makes sense.

“Your days are his nights and his nights are your days. It's flipped,” she said. “That's the kind of person who may go for a drive. Anybody who works second or third shifts knows how that works.”

Now, it’s the judicial system that’s at work, but Nichols fears it's being based on speculation rather than facts.

“I want justice. I do, but I want the right justice,” Nichols said. “I want the right person, not an innocent person.”

Nichols says other family members agree that Lee didn't murder his wife.

As for whom the killer is, she says she's not sure. However, she does say that Crickett did receive several threats before she died.



UPDATE 10/27/10
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- The husband of a woman found stabbed to death in her home has been arrested for her murder, seven months later.

Leslie "Crickett" Lee, 40, of Greenup, was found stabbed to death in her bed in March 2011.

Thursday, her husband, Charles Lee, was arrested. Commonwealth Attorney Cliff Duvall told WSAZ.com the arrest took a long time with the Grand Jury because it's an entirely circumstantial case -- but there is enough evidence to move forward.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/20/11 @ 10:10 a.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Still no arrest in the murder 40-year-old Leslie “Crickett” Lee of Greenup County, but the case could soon be presented soon to a grand jury.

Greenup County Sheriff, Keith Cooper tells WSAZ.com, his department has a prime suspect, and that investigators are ready to present a murder charge to an upcoming grand jury.

Sheriff Cooper also says he believes he has a very strong case, and that he has been consulting with Commonwealth Attorney Cliff Duvall on the case.

Lee was found stabbed to death in her bed at her home along Main Street in Greenup County back in March.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.



UPDATE 3/22/11 @ 10 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A missing dog that could be key evidence in a murder investigation has been found.

The Greenup County Sheriff's Office says Leslie "Crickett" Lee's dog Pandie was found Monday night.

They say Pandie was found near the Double A highway near the Lewis County line.

The dog will be turned back over to the victim's family. A suspect has still not been named in the case.



UPDATE 3/10/11 @ 5:40 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- If you find her dog -- you might find her killer. Prosecutors and police need your help in the high profile murder case of national activist Leslie "Crickett" Lee.

There’s a 24-7 effort to find the Charleston native's killer. Investigators say this investigation has been going around the clock since her body was found last Friday. After little to go on early, we're told the murder victims’ devoted and missing pet may offer key clues to a suspect's whereabouts.

Commonwealth attorney Cliff Duvall showed WSAZ’s Randy Yohe this picture of Leslie Lanham-Lee's dog. Duvall says the pet was very protective of its master. That master’s nickname - Crickett. Police say Crickett was found stabbed to death in her Greenup home last Friday morning.

The motorcycle riding lady founded and championed national biker movements to fight child abuse and help returning troops and the needy.

Duvall says he needs the communities’ help in finding Crickett's dog.
He says the dog must have been in the presence of Ms. Lee’s killer.
Duvall says investigators now do have a person - or person's of interest in the murder case.

Across the country, hundreds continue to mourn this beloved woman's death. And after the funeral earlier this week, there's a growing hue and cry for justice to be done. If you know where Cricket's dog might be - or what happened to the pet - call the Greenup County Sheriff's Department.



UPDATE 3/7/11 @ 8:15 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- As a murder investigation continues, hundreds locally and nationally are mourning a heartfelt loss.

Family, friends and members of a women's motorcycle movement went to a visitation at a funeral home for a sister fondly known as "Crickett."

There’s shock and sadness over the death of a dedicated leader and a champion of the abused, the forgotten and the helpless. There’s also bitter irony in this murder probe. Police are looking for the killer of a woman who so many agree committed her life to fighting violence.

“We all wanted to be like her,” Karen Fann said.

It was more than fitting that we talked with Fann online by Skype about the loss of Leslie Lanham-Lee, since the Internet is now filled with remembrances to the motorcycle riding woman known as Crickett.

Fann is on the board of directors for the Katelynn Stinnett Memorial Ride. Crickett founded the now national child abuse prevention and awareness movement after bonding with the Kentucky toddler, who died at age 2 of brutal child abuse.

“She lived this,” Fann said. “She saw what had happened to Katelynn, saw how she was beaten up and wanted it to stop.”

Crickett, recently honored by the Kentucky legislature, expanded her causes, to helping troops home from war, as well as needy families.

“All she cared about was how she could make somebody's life better,” Fann said.

Crickett was co-founder of the Borrowed Angels Charity Riders -- women bikers dedicated to helping where ever the need arose.

"We're sisters,” Fann said. “There are people crying all over the country. I want to know who hurt our girl. She fought to stop violence, this should not have happened to her.”

Fann says Crickett was very dedicated to making sure any troops coming home from war were remembered -- even helped, if need be.

The Greenup County Sheriff says the murder investigation is active, but he has no suspects or persons of interest yet.

Crickett’s visitation was Monday night at the Snodgrass Funeral Home in South Charleston. The funeral will take place at 2 p.m. Tuesday, with a life celebration to follow at Tomahawks in Jefferson.



UPDATE 3/4/11 @ 11 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- It's a death investigation that could shake any neighborhood to its core. A woman was found dead in her own bed. Now, police are searching for answers.

The sheriff says no one heard anything, but, at this point, the department is just trying to put the pieces together to try to figure out what happened.

"We got called at about 6:45 to 7 this morning," Greenup County Sheriff Keith Cooper said.

That's when it started.

"She was laying in the bed deceased upon our arrival," Cooper said about victim Leslie "Crickett" Lee, who was only 40.

Her husband Steven, of just a year and a half, found her. She had been stabbed twice in the neck in her own bed.

"He had gone out for a drive and returned home. And when he came back, he discovered her body," Cooper said. "They had a dog, and the dog's missing, too."

The sheriff says Lee lived in the home for several years. Neighbors who we spoke with say the community is generally a quiet one, where they feel safe.

"It's really, really quiet," resident Janey Pease said. "There's never anything going on. Most of the people who live here on this road are policemen, so that's what's strange."

Pease has only lived in the neighborhood for about a month. She's seen the couple while walking her dog. But Friday morning, something just didn't seem right.

"He was leaning up against the back of his truck and he had his arms crossed," Pease said. "I mean, obviously, he was really upset. You could tell he was really upset."

Deputies say it is important to stand guard.

"Anytime you have anything like this happen in your neighborhood, you want people to be vigilant and to be concerned," Cooper said.

While the news may be unsettling, deputies say they believe whoever did it isn't targeting anyone else.

"It is a little scary because, I mean, this is really quiet here," Pease said. "You never think anybody would do anything like that around here, really."

Deputies say the door to Lee's home was unlocked, but the couple rarely locked their door. They also say no weapons were found at the scene.

Cooper says he doesn't have any suspects just yet, but they are actively working on the investigation.



ORIGINAL STORY
GREENUP, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A criminal investigation is underway after a woman was found dead inside a residence in Greenup, Ky.

The Greenup County Sheriff says the body of 40-year-old Leslie “Crickett” Lee was found around 6:45 a.m. Friday inside a residence in the 2000 block of Main Street.

Investigators were called to the residence after 911 received a call about an unresponsive female.

Sheriff Keith Cooper tells WSAZ.com that Lee's husband discovered her body. He says it appears she was stabbed at least twice in the neck. No weapon was found.

Anyone with information on Lee's death is asked to call the Greenup County Sheriff.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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