CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A robbery and murder plot Shawn Thomas Lester concocted just days before he was arrested in connection to the 2003 sniper-style killings factored into a federal judge's decision to tack six years onto Lester's 40-year prison term.
After noting Monday that Lester is a man "from whom the public needs protection," U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver sentenced Lester to six years in prison on federal gun possession charges, adding to the 40-year maximum he will spend in state prison for his role in the murder of Jeanie Patton, one of three people shot and killed outside of a Kanawha County convenience store in 2003.
Copenhaver said he based the decision on recordings a confidential informant gave to police just days before Lester was arrested and charged with Patton's murder.
In the recordings, which were played during Monday's sentencing, Lester tells the informant he has plans to break into a West Side apartment, subdue its occupant with a stun gun, murder him and make off with more than $40,000 worth of prescription pills.
Charleston Police Lt. Steve Cooper said that the informant is still involved with several state and federal investigations and asked media outlets who attended the hearing to refrain from releasing his name.
In March 2011, Lester told the informant over the phone that he wanted help "hitting a lick," which is street slang that commonly refers to robbing someone. Lester said he suspected that the man who lives in the apartment directly above his friend was hoarding thousands of prescription pills.
At one point during the recordings, the informant tells Lester that the man may be able to finger him for the crime later.
"I ain't worried about that," Lester responds, according to the tape. "I'll probably end up having to kill him."
Lester asks the informant if he can use his stun gun to carry out the robbery. The informant tells him that the man may have the pills well-hidden.
"I don't give a [expletive]," Lester said. "He'll talk."
It's not clear what Lester intended to do with the stun gun, or in what manner he intended to carry out the killing.
Lester's attorney, Deirdre Purdy, accused the informant of goading Lester into committing the crime -- using street lingo to gain his trust and pretending to go along with illegal activity.
The informant explained that during parts of the conversation he was actually trying to prevent Lester from committing the robbery. He also said that after he learned of the plot, he met the neighbor at a Wendy's and tipped him off.
"I have to maintain a persona that I'm not going to run to the police," the informant said. "Someone who doesn't do drugs, like me, has to be able to sit at the table with Shawn Lester."