A judge has denied a request to shorten the life sentence for a woman convicted of beating another woman to death, then dumping her body in a trash bin, saying she hasn't changed.
Leeann Marie Piatt was 16 when Cindy S. Forrest, 43, was beaten to death Feb. 11, 2007, after Piatt and a co-defendant accused her of stealing money meant to bail Piatt's mother out of jail, authorities said.
Forrest's body was found in a trash bin in the 2900 block of Cashion Place. Prosecutors said the woman was beaten over several hours and found with a plastic bag over her head.
An Oklahoma County judge ruled Piatt and co-defendant Nicolette Sierra Nero — also 16 at the time of the slaying — should be tried as adults in the case, but the state Court of Criminal Appeals overruled that decision on Piatt.
She ended up in the juvenile system, while Nero was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 10 years probation in a plea deal with Oklahoma County prosecutors.
A third person involved in Forrest's death, Gary Wayne Ray, was sentenced in March 2008 to 35 years in prison after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors. Ray, 21, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Failed drug test
Piatt spent two years in a juvenile facility and was nearing release when she failed a drug test and was sent to prison because that violated the terms of her treatment plan. Piatt has spent the past year in a county facility for women.
Wednesday, Piatt's attorney asked Associate District Judge Richard W. Kirby to take 20 years off her 35-year sentence, saying she has “excelled” as an inmate.
“Yes, she had a hiccup along the way,” Michael Johnson said. “That failed drug test cost her 35 years.”
Piatt appeared remorseful and asked the judge for the chance to become a “real citizen.”
“I have to wake up every day knowing I killed her,” she said. “I want Cindy's family to know how sorry I am.”
Kirby denied the request after hearing testimony from state workers and volunteers who have treated Piatt and two recorded phone calls between Piatt and her mother, Lorri Lee Debolt, 38, a felon with a 2008 conviction for trafficking cocaine.
“The court believes the same LeeAnn Piatt is standing here before me today,” Kirby said.
In one of the calls, made the day before she appeared in front of the judge, Piatt is overheard saying “I can't tell them I'm a changed person when I'm not.”
Debolt tells her daughter to “get up there and act like you're remorseful.”
After hearing the conversations, Piatt's attorney blamed Debolt for his client's problems, referring to her as “Mommy Dearest.”
“Children are a product of their environment,” Johnson said. “That's not a role model.”
Played the system
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Chance called Piatt a “remorseless murderer” who played the juvenile system for her own benefit and deserved to spend the rest of her life behind bars.
“She deserves as much mercy as she showed Cindy Forrest when she suffocated her to death and dumped her partially nude body in a Dumpster,” Chance said.