LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A Lufkin woman involved in the kidnapping of another woman agreed Friday morning to a 10-year prison sentence.
Rachel Tutt, 22, was involved in abducting the ex-girlfriend of Stephen Wallace, who authorities say is a high-ranking official in the Aryan Brotherhood.
According to testimony from two previous trials, Tutt was Wallace's "girl on the side" and took turns with Wallace beating the victim in June 2009.
Tutt pleaded guilty to a charge of kidnapping, which was reduced from aggravated kidnapping. She gets credit for 297 days already served in state jail.
Tutt looked down in the courtroom as the woman she helped kidnap and beat told her "you and i both know that if you had it your way, i would be dead."
"This was my only chance with Rachel and I was a good friend to Rachel," the victim said in an interview.
That chance to express how she felt came before Tutt was escorted out of the courtroom to spend the next 10 years in prison.
"I thought it was fair, but you know I feel for everybody in this case," Tutt's attorney, Ryan Deaton, said. "But, I do feel sorry for the defendant because I think she was just kind of a pawn, one of the girls that was kind of being controlled by some pretty harsh individuals."
"It's hard because you do have two people that received life sentences and, in my opinion, if somebody else was going to receive a life sentence, it would've been this one," the victim said.
Tutt's guilty plea comes a week after her boyfriend was sentenced to life for his role in the kidnapping.
"We kind of saw the writing on the wall and kind of figured we needed to do something because this was serious and it set the stage for our plea bargain to some degree," Deaton said.
The victim had a chance to come face to face with Tutt and told her, "I hope my face is the first thing you see each morning and the last thing you see each night."
The state said they settled for a lesser offense for Tutt because she had no prior convictions.
"I don't think that she really fully 'fessed up to everything that she did in this crime, I really don't, but again, I don't think that her culpability was that of Wallace and Guffey," prosecuting attorney Art Bauereiss said.
"I think everyone needs to know she was very remorseful about what happened and I think very sad about the situation, but she also knew that she had done something wrong and she had to pay the price for it," Deaton said.
A big price, but one she agreed to by admitting she helped in the June 2009 kidnapping.
"There's a certain amount of justice knowing there's a certainty in the result here," Bauereiss said.
"What can you say?" the victim said. "I just pray that one day, she opens her eyes and lets God come into her heart."
The victim said the prosecution sought her approval before agreeing to the plea bargain.
"She didn't have the criminal history of violence that the other two did that we went to trial on," Bauereiss said. "I'm not saying that wouldn't have justified a prison sentence. I think, in my opinion, she would've gotten sentenced to prison anyway, but I don't know that it would've been a life sentence, especially given her role, which was less than the other two we tried."