Mother gets eight years in murder-for-hire scheme

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 29, 2007

Though her attorney said she was the victim of her daughter’s bad influence and criminal plan, Barbara Mantle pleaded guilty Wednesday to her part in a scheme to kill her ex-son-in-law.

Like her daughter, Valerie Mantle, who pleaded guilty two weeks ago, Barbara Mantle, 61, of 722 Vernon St., Ironton, will spend eight years in prison for the conspiracy to commit aggravated murder conviction.

The victim, Joseph Cox, attended the pretrial conference and told Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Charles Cooper he had thought about what he wanted to say ever since Valerie Mantle had pleaded guilty and couldn’t think of anything. He did tell Cooper to “let justice be served.”

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Mantle’s attorney, Warren Morford,

said his client was as much a victim in this incident as she was a perpetrator. He said prior to the murder scheme, Cox had called her house 89 times and she felt trapped.

He said prior to this incident, she had been a law-abiding, church-going citizen.

“Her involvement arose from Valerie’s instigation, Valerie’s control, over her mother,” Morford said. “Valerie moved in with her mother, took over her house, took over her life.”

But Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier, Jr., contended the taped conversation with the undercover police officer who met with the Mantles to discuss their plot would prove Barbara was just as culpable as Valerie.

“She was involved just as much as her daughter,” Collier told Cooper.

When Cooper asked if Barbara Mantle had anything to say prior to sentencing, Mantle said she was sorry for all that had happened.

“If I could take it all back, I would,” she said. She contended she was only involved at the end of the scheme.

The mother and daughter were arrested in September and charged with trying to hire a hit man to kill Cox, who had been married to Valerie Mantle and has a child with him. They tried to pay the undercover police officer $500 and some prescription medication.