Woman sentenced in body dumping

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Vezina

COEUR d’ALENE — A 29-year-old Spokane Valley woman who helped dump a body into Lake Coeur d'Alene at Fuller's Bay two years ago will attend a prison rider program before she is given a chance at probation.

Lacy N. Drake pleaded guilty in May to failing to notify authorities of the death of 27-year-old Kimberly Sue Vezina, who had died from a drug overdose and whose body was found in November 2015 wrapped in a tarp floating near the south end of Lake Coeur d’Alene. Another charge, destruction of evidence, was dismissed.

Drake was sentenced a week ago in Coeur d’Alene to 10 years in prison with five of those years fixed, but District Judge John T. Mitchell retained jurisdiction after attorneys asked for a leaner sentence.

Arguing Drake was coerced into dumping Vezina’s body, deputy prosecutor Alex Klempel and defense attorney Jonathan Hull both recommended a two-year fixed term for Drake, with four years indeterminate, and they asked Mitchell to retain jurisdiction until Drake completes a rider.

Rider programs are used to determine if convicts are good candidates for probation.

Noting the pre-sentence report recommended Drake serve penitentiary time, Mitchell boosted the prison term, but allowed Drake to attend the rider program.

“The PSI recommends straight prison,” Mitchell said, before ordering the more lenient sentence.

Calling Drake’s participation in dumping the body, “horrific,” Mitchell also commended the defendant for taking responsibility.

“You’ve shown a lot of bravery for what you did,” Mitchell said.

According to reports from the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, Drake and another woman, Laura L. Akins, 26, were at a Spokane Valley residence on the 4400 block of Third Avenue around the middle of October, a place known by police as a drug house and which had been raided by authorities a month earlier.

Vezina was also at the residence where drugs including brown heroin were being sold. Vezina, who was known as a “hustler” and drug addict, had been released from jail earlier and had been given a ride to the house by a methamphetamine dealer.

That night, Vezina had reportedly overdosed in the bathroom, where her body was found in the morning. Because many of the residents had criminal records, the overdose was not reported to authorities.

Drake and Akins, who were drug users — and who had less extensive criminal histories than the other people at the house — were tapped to dispose of Vezina’s body.

“Ultimately it was decided that Laura and Lacy would dispose of the body after dark on (Oct.) 15,” according to a report by Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office Det. Darrell Oyler.

The duo, with the help of people at the drug house, loaded Vezina’s body into a stolen SUV and drove to Fuller’s Bay east of Worley, where Akins’ relatives had a house near the lake.

According to witness statements, Vezina’s body was wrapped in a blue tarp and part of a shower curtain from the bathroom where she died. The plastic was secured using a red and white nylon rope. The women were given a bag of cement to attach to the body, but they did not know how to secure it. They dumped the body off the dock at Fuller’s Landing without the cement, and shortly afterward burglarized a home on Glass Lane, stealing a .22 cal. pistol and tools.

Three weeks later on Nov. 9 the body rose to the surface and was discovered by anglers who saw a hand poking from the tarp that was snagged on the breakwater at Fuller’s Landing not far from the beach in about 20 feet of water.

The men called the sheriff’s office, which had divers retrieve the body from the cold, 44-degree water.

Vezina died of “combined drug toxicity,” notably morphine and amphetamines, according to the Kootenai County Coroner’s report.

A statement from the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office in January 2016 said detectives had identified a person of interest in the case of a Spokane woman whose body was found in Lake Coeur d’Alene, but released no further information.

Akins was arrested in August 2016, and Drake was arrested in September last year. Both women were charged with failing to notify authorities of Vezina’s death, and with felony burglary.

Hull told the court that his client was scared and taken advantage of.

“She was terrified and that was why she helped dispose of the body,” Hull said. “There was no advantage to her doing what she did.”

Burglary charges, as well as a charge of destroying evidence, against Drake were dismissed. The failing to notify charge against Akins was dropped by prosecutors. Akins’ next hearing on the burglary charge is Aug. 11 in Coeur d’Alene’s First District Court.

Drake was credited 135 days for the time she has already served in the Kootenai County jail.

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