Belle receives four-year sentence

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 3, 2008

A Proctorville woman expressed remorse for her part in a 2007 burglary when she was sentenced last week in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

Her victims expressed hope she meant what she said — and they intend to provide a little guidance in case she does.

Jennifer Belle, 23, of 104 N. Jones St., Proctorville, will spend four years in prison for that burglary charge. She pleaded guilty Feb 13.

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As she stood before Judge Charles Cooper, Belle apologized for helping her then-boyfriend, Ryan Hannon, break into a Lawrence County residence. She several times turned around and looked at the victims, who were seated in the gallery.

“I hate that I put them through that,” Belle told Cooper. “They probably are sitting here wondering if someone’s going to break in on them again, they probably don’t feel safe anymore. It’s something I thought I would never do and I did it. They’re God-fearing people. They’re good people. I hope they pray for me and I hope they forgive me. I hope I can forgive myself.”

Her statement was punctuated by sobs as she told Cooper she was on numerous kinds of medication for mental health issues and had twice tried suicide.

The victims, who did not give their names, asked a member of the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office if they would be allowed to give Belle a Bible with a study guide in hopes she is truly sorry for her crime and wants to make a fundamental change in her life.

“I pray for her, I pray for her daily,” the woman said. “I pray this will help her turn her life around.”

Cooper denied Belle’s request for a brief furlough before she is sent to prison.

“Particularly with what you told me about your suicide attempts and psychotrophic drugs,” he said in rejecting her plea.

Hannon’s case is pending in common pleas court.

Also Wednesday, a man who terrorized an Ironton couple last year pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated arson, two counts of felonious assault as well as charges of attempted murder and disrupting a public service.

John D. Murrell, 43, of

1903 S. Third St., Ironton, will spend a total of eight years in prison.

In March 2007, Murrell broke a window in a residence in the 1600 block of South Third Street, struck a gun through the window and threatened two people inside and then set fire to the back porch.

In another case, James F. Unrue III, 24, of Russell, Ky., pleaded guilty to one count of theft, which was amended from the original charge of grand theft.

He was accused of stealing a hand gun from C&S guns in Ironton.

Cooper sentenced Unrue to three years in prison. If he stays out of trouble while he is behind bars, he may be eligible for judicial release after one year and may be allowed to serve the last six months in a community based correctional facility.

Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Jeff Smith said the stolen gun was returned and Unrue and his mother cooperated with the investigation.

Unrue said his crime was the result of a drug addiction and family problems and he was sorry for what he had done.

“I fully intend to turn my life around and get back into school,” Unrue said.

Cooper granted Unrue a brief furlough before he is sent to prison.