Woman pleads guilty to facilitation of second-degree murder


A woman caught up in an October 2017 drug-related murder at a Morristown Housing Authority apartment on Tulip Street resolved her case on Tuesday with an atypical plea and an atypical sentence, authorities say.

Heather Leanne Stringfield, a 28-year-old woman who was indicted for felony first-degree murder, pleaded guilty to facilitation of second-degree murder and attempted especially aggravated robbery in the shooting death of Antonio Dewayne Yarbrough. Yarbrough, who was shot in the upper thigh with a .40-caliber handgun, was 25.

Defendants convicted of felony murder face up to life in prison. Defendants convicted of facilitation of second-degree murder typically face a maximum penalty of six years behind bars, but Stringfield accepted an outside-the-range 20-year prison sentence.

She will be eligible for parole after serving 30 percent of the sentence. The 15 years she got for attempted especially aggravated robbery will run concurrently with the homicide sentence.

Stringfield’s two codefendants, Michael Brandon Ratliff, 35, and Nicholas M. Roberts, 32, are charged with first-degree felony murder. They’re scheduled to announce on July 1 whether they will plead guilty or go to trial. The trial is scheduled to begin on July 21.

The lead investigator in the case, Detective Lt. Vicki Arnold with the Morristown Police Department, said at the time of the defendants’ arrest that Yarbrough and the three homicide defendants had been involved in a drug-related dispute before Yarbrough was killed.

When the Morristown Police Department took Ratliff into custody at a family member’s home, he allegedly was holding 3.1 ounces of crystal meth and a .40-caliber handgun, Morristown Police Chief Roger Overholt said earlier.

Ratliff is incarcerated at the Morgan County Correctional Complex. Roberts is in the Hamblen County Jail.

In another high-profile case, Corey Shane Linholm, a 29-year-old Morristown man, was sentenced to 10 years behind bars on Tuesday, and it could have been much worse for him.

Linholm was indicted for aggravated robbery and theft over $10,000 in connection with the February 2019 carjacking of a Chevrolet Silverado pickup, but was allowed to plead guilty to robbery, which cut his presumptive sentence from at least eight years to six.

Linholm represented he wanted a ride to a store when a man named Randall McMahan picked him up on Skeen Road, according to Detective Sgt. David Stapleton with the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department.

Before they reached the destination, however, Linholm allegedly pulled out a handgun, relieved McMahan of his wallet and two cellphones, and then ordered McMahan out of his pickup, according to Stapleton detective.

Linholm also pleaded guilty Tuesday to two felony counts of meth possession, simple possession meth and marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft over $1,000 and resisting arrest. He was fined $3,200 and ordered to pay partial restitution of $3,000. The restitution amount for the stolen pickup will be determined at a later date, according to a judgment sheet.

Two people indicted for misdemeanor offenses received judicial diversions on Monday.

Phillip Carter, 55, was charged with two counts of misdemeanor theft. If he remains offense-free for a year, the charges could be removed from his record. He was fined $200 and ordered to pay about $24 in restitution to Food City.

Miranda Moore, a 29-year-old woman initially charged with simple assault, will also have to avoid scrapes with the law for a year if she wants the charge removed from her criminal history. Moore was fined $100.

The others who pleaded guilty in Hamblen County Criminal Court on Monday or Tuesday and the resolution of their cases are:

David Allen Coffey, 28, felony possession of meth; eight years community corrections; $2,000 fine.

Andrew Travis Lane, 33, evading arrest, reckless driving, driving on a revoked license and resisting arrest; 11 months, 29 days; $250 fine.

James Thomas Scarberry, 31, reckless driving, three counts violation of an order of protection, two counts evading arrest, driving on a revoked license, no insurance; six months; $525 fine.

Steven Dale Setzor, 43, DUI; 10 days; $450 fine.

Charles Leroy Collins, 45, driving on revoked license, possession of drug paraphernalia, no insurance and violation of the registration and seat belt laws; six months supervised probation; $340 fine.