Loveless acquitted, Powell pleads guilty

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 29, 2002

Michael Loveless, 34, of Forest Home, was acquitted Monday on charges of rape, and Tracy Lamar Powell, 27,

who was indicted in the murder of Lorenzo Crenshaw on March 27, pled guilty to manslaughter.

Loveless was accused of the rape of his 15-year-old step-daughter in April of 2001.

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The alleged victim was 13 years old at the time of the first alleged incident, in which she said Loveless came into her room, took off her underwear and had sex with her. The alleged victim said these types of incidents occurred two to three times per week until she informed family members of what was happening.

According to Butler County District Attorney John Andrews, it was a case of "her word against his." He said the alleged victim and alleged offender lived in a small mobile home with others and it was hard for jurors to believe that no one in the trailer saw or heard anything when these incidents were taking place.

"It was a tough one," Andrews said. "She said it went on 50 or 60 times or so and jurors found it hard to believe no one ever saw or heard anything."

The DA said that he feels witness testimony also hurt the State's case against Loveless. "Sometimes witnesses are not as good as they need to be when they tell their story," he said.

Andrews said he is glad that the Department of Human Resources (DHR) and the Butler County Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) are available when such cases occur.

"In cases like that, you have to give DHR and the CAC credit because they step in and help the children heal and carry on with their lives," he said. "Fortunately, we have the CAC to help these children through these situations."

Defense Attorney Brandon Sellers said he feels that the outcome of the trial was just for his client. "Mr. Loveless had been eagerly awaiting his day in court," he said. "We believe that justice was served and hopefully his good name has now been restored."

In another trial held on Thursday, Powell, of Greenville, pled guilty to manslaughter in the September 2001, shooting death of Crenshaw, 28, also of Greenville.

Powell was indicted on murder charges on March 27 and the trial began and ended Thursday, with Powell pleading guilty to manslaughter. He was sentenced to a 10-year-split-18-month term in which he will serve18 months, and then will be placed on probation.

Andrews said that after a lunch recess during the trial, the defendant came back into the courtroom and decided to plea.

The agreement was decided upon by both the State and the Defense as well as both families involved.

Witnesses testified that on September 14, 2001, a crowd had gathered at Max Club located on Manningham Road when a fight broke out between several individuals including Frederick Crenshaw, Lorenzo Crenshaw, Willie Lee Powell Jr., Tracy Powell and Jearmaine Powell.

Witnesses testified after the fight was broken up, Lorenzo Crenshaw was taken to his home and was left there by another individual. He allegedly returned to the club a short time later and was armed with a gun and possibly a two-by-four. He allegedly fired shots into the air and another fight ensued.

As a result of the second fight, Crenshaw was mortally wounded after being shot in the chest with a .25-caliber automatic pistol. He was pronounced dead on arrival at L.V. Stabler Memorial Hospital, where he was transported by his brother, Frederick Crenshaw.

Andrews said he feels the plea agreement was fair, with all parties involved accepting the terms. "Based on the evidence, I think it was a fair agreement," he said.

Sellers said he felt the State would not have been able to prove murder in the Powell case, but that the defendant decided to take the plea agreement.

"We don't believe that the State could ever prove murder in this case, however, both the State and the defendant reached a compromise that was acceptable to the victim's family and the defendant's family," he said.

Andrews said he hopes the Crenshaw family feels that justice has been served. "Maybe this will give them some closure and give it the time to settle down," he said.

The District Attorney said he feels it was "a good week" in court and that "probably 50 or 60 cases" were disposed of.