Livingston woman gets 8 years for taking fall for husband in shooting death of 16-year-old

Rachel Leggett (Source: Polk County Jail)
Rachel Leggett (Source: Polk County Jail)
Timothy Leggett (Source: Polk County Jail)
Timothy Leggett (Source: Polk County Jail)

LIVINGSTON, TX (KTRE) - A Polk County judge sentenced the Livingston woman who initially took the fall for her husband in the Oct. 12, 2012 shooting death of 16-year-old Rhett C. Lathan to eight years in Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison Wednesday.

Rachel Nichol Leggett, 43, appeared Judge Kaycee Jones 411th Judicial District Court and pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony charge of tampering with evidence. Polk County District Attorney William Lee Hon said that Leggett will be eligible for parole after she serves at least a quarter of her prison sentence if she doesn't have any behavioral issues.

Back in November 2013, a Polk County jury sentenced Timothy Eugene Leggett, Rachel Leggett's husband, to 99 years in prison. He was also required to pay a $10,000 fine.

Originally, Rachel Leggett was accused of the crime charged with murder. However, further digging into the case by the Polk County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Rangers resulted in Timothy Leggett being arrested and charged with murder in connection to Lathan's death.

According to the arrest affidavit, Rachel Leggett, 42, allegedly said she shot and killed Rhett C. Lathan and wounded his friend, Tanner Martin to cover for her husband "because he was on probation for DWI's."

The affidavit stated that the further investigation of the shooting incident has shown that Investigators believe the shooting death of Lathan was "caused by Timothy Leggett and not Rachel Leggett as both stated on the night in question."

In a previous East Texas News story, Polk County District Attorney William Lee Hon said he was unable to comment on whether or not the murder and assault charges filed against Rachel Leggett will be dropped.

"I can't comment at this time, "Hon said. "That whole investigation is still in progress."

In December 2012, a Polk County grand jury indicted Rachel Leggett for murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury. In addition, Hon said the case against Rachel Leggett is still pending.

According to the arrest affidavit, the Polk County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call from Martin. In the call, he reported that his friend, Rhett Lathan, had been shot in the head somewhere near Old Israel Road. He also said he was trying to get his friend to the Livingston hospital.

Lathan had been driving Martin's white and brown Ford F-150 pickup when the shootings occurred. On Oct. 12, 2012, Lathan and Martin pulled into the Leggett's driveway in the 200 block of Easy Street, expecting to attend a party hosted by Rachel Leggett's son. Martin told investigators that after they realized their friend wasn't home, Lathan backed the truck up in an effort to turn around, put the pickup into drive and started to leave the property. As they were attempting to leave, shots were fired at Martin's Ford F-150.

An on-scene investigation by the Polk County Sheriff's Office and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers determined that the tire tracks on the Leggetts' property were consistent with the tires on Martin's pickup. The affidavit stated that the tire tracks on the scene "appeared to be consistent with Martin's account of the shooting."

Timothy Leggett allegedly grabbed a .22-caliber rifle and fired it several times toward Martin's pickup. Examination of the truck revealed one penetrating bullet hole in the pickups front driver's side door and non-penetrating "bullet impression" to the rear driver's side door.

In a recorded interview with authorities, Rachel Leggett said was standing at the front door of her house on Easy Street when an unknown vehicle entered her yard "driving in an erratic manner." She said she grabbed the .22 rifle from just inside the front door and fired toward the vehicle an unknown amount of times.

The affidavit stated that Timothy Leggett originally told authorities that on Oct. 12, 2012, he was in his pasture, about 100 yards away from his home, when he saw his wife shoot at the truck with the .22 rifle.

In addition, the affidavit referred to an audio recording in which Timothy Leggett allegedly said he was going to come forward and admit that he was the shooter. Rachel Leggett later approached Polk County authorities and told them her husband fired the shots and that was covering for him because he was on probation for driving while intoxicated charges.

Then on May 20, Timothy Leggett allegedly confessed to authorities that on the night of Oct. 12, 2012, he picked up the .22 rifle and fired several shots toward Martin's pickup.

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