After nearly three hours of deliberating on Friday, a Cherokee County jury found an area man guilty of second-degree murder and first-degree robbery.
Ricky Don Rainwater, 45, claimed that 67-year-old Larry Lane Sr. made unwanted sexual advances toward him on Aug. 31, 2018. He told authorities that "bothered" him, so he put Lane “to sleep.”
The medical examiner said Lane’s cause of death was manual strangulation.
During closing statements, District Attorney Jack Thorp, who prosecuted the case, told the jury authorities corroborated the evidence of robbery, and the same evidence proved the killing of Lane.
“That physical evidence — both circumstantial and direct — all pointed to the fact that no other human being on the planet but Rainwater murdered and robbed Larry Lane Sr.,” said Thorp.
Thorp referred to Rainwater as an "excuse-making machine" during his closing statement.
Crystal Jackson, who represented Rainwater, said in her closing statement that her client had been up front and honest about stealing Lane’s truck, debit card, and cash. She urged jurors to believe Rainwater when he said Lane made unwanted advances the night of the homicide.
“The state wants you to just believe bits and pieces of it that fit, but they have no evidence that Ricky was lying in his statement,” said Jackson.
According to court reports, Rainwater admitted to authorities that he put Lane "to sleep" and stole his truck, debit card, and cash.
Authorities located Rainwater after receiving information from his ex-girlfriend, who indicated he had checked into a mental facility in Memphis. Local police arrested the suspect and transported him to the Shelby County Detention Center in Memphis. Lane's trucked was later recovered in West Memphis, Arkansas, in a Walmart parking lot.
After closing statements, jurors were sent to a room to deliberate. District Judge Douglas Kirkley presided over the case.
The jury recommended a sentence of life in prison for second-degree murder, and 20 years for first-degree robbery.
Rainwater will return to count on Feb. 20 for formal sentencing.