More than two years after she was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for her part in the murder of a 16-year-old girl, Yolanda D. Thompson is asking that her sentence be reduced.
In an application for post-conviction relief filed last week with the Union County Clerk of Court’s Office, Thompson asks the court that her sentence be reduced on the grounds of “ineffective assistance of counsel, breach of bargain, and prosecutorial misconduct.” Thompson claims the attorney who first handled her case, Hattie E. Boyce, was “inept and deficient” in representing her “in a capital case.” She further claims that “the outcome of Ms. Boyce’s counsel was difficult for the newly retained state appointed attorney, Mr. Harry Dest, to correct. Which in result, Mr. Dest did not act in good faith.”
Thompson also claims that her guilty plea did not comply with mandates set forth by law and that the state failed to prove she “acted with malice in committing her crimes.”
A prisoner at the Leath Correctional Institution in Greenwood, Thompson is serving a life sentence for her role in the Jan. 3, 2008 murder of 16-year-old Marisha Jeter. Thompson pleaded guilty in March 2009 to the murder of Jeter as part of a plea bargain agreement with the state to testify against her husband, Pernell Clayton Thompson. In September of that year, Pernell Thompson also pleaded guilty to Jeter’s murder and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
When she pleaded guilty, Thompson was initially sentenced by Judge Lee S. Alford of York to five years in prison for criminal conspiracy but delay sentencing on the charges of murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, and possession of knife during the commission of a violent crime until after her husband’s trial. The sentences for those charges were handed down on Nov. 6, 2009 at the end of an emotional hearing in the which the defense and Thompson’s family and friends pleaded for leniency, citing her previous lack of a criminal record and her cooperation with authorities. A sobbing Thompson spoke on her own behalf as well, asking for a second chance.
The state countered this by pointing out that Thompson and her husband had lured Jeter away from her home under false pretenses; repeatedly stabbed her before putting her in the trunk of their car and driving to Broad River; stripped her and put her in the river before driving to Chester County and setting their car on fire. Members of Jeter’s family also spoke, telling the court how her murder had devastated them, especially her mother whose health had deteriorated to the point where she was unable to attend the hearing. They also reminded the court that the Thompsons had beaten and stomped Jeter, stabbing her 33 times and cutting her throat.
Alford cited this combination of premeditation and brutality when he sentenced Thompson to life in prison without possibility of parole for murder; 30 years for armed robbery; and five years for possession of a knife during the commission of a violent crime. The sentences were in addition to the five years Alford had sentenced Thompson to for criminal conspiracy and all were to run concurrently.
In preparing to sentence Thompson, Alford described her and her husband’s crime as “premeditated murder with malice aforethought. It was premeditated and carried out by two people. This was a brutal killing and kidnapping. I see no reason to treat you different from Mr. Thompson.”