2nd man sentenced in death

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Following a motion by the prosecution to amend his indictment,Robert Mark Culbertson pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon tomanslaughter in the October 2006 death of Duane Douglas.

In spite of the victim’s family’s request that he only servefive years, Culbertson, 32, was sentenced to 20 years in prison -the maximum sentence for manslaughter – with three years suspended.In addition, he was fined $5,000 and also ordered to payrestitution and $1,000 for attorney fees.

Culbertson was a key witness for the state last week in thetrial against Michael Leggett, who was convicted of murder inDouglas’ death. Leggett was sentenced to life in prison without thepossibility of parole.

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The state maintained that on the night of Oct. 11, 2006, Leggettbeat Douglas to death with a tire iron, which Culbertson testifiedhe threw in order to keep Douglas from getting a gun from histruck. The two men had gone to Douglas’ residence to retrieve awallet that Leggett said Douglas had stolen from him.

Defense Attorney David Linzey asked the court when deciding thesentence to take into consideration Culbertson’s testimony in theLeggett trial. By testifying, Culbertson put himself in harm’s waywhen he gets to prison, but that he did it because he felt it wasthe right thing to do, Linzey said.

Culbertson was allowed a statement at the hearing. He told thecourt and Douglas’ parents, who were present at the sentencing, howsorry he was for the situation, saying he wished he’d never gotteninvolved.

“If there was anything I could do to change it, I would, but Iknow that won’t help them any,” he said. “Maybe one day they canforgive me for it. I can’t say I know how they feel, but I am sosorry for what I’ve done.”

Judge Mike Taylor handed down the sentence, saying that thecourt is not in the habit of assigning only five years to such aserious crime as manslaughter. He told Culbertson that his candorand responsibility in testifying against Leggett from the beginningwas appreciated and considered.

“The court notes you have taken responsibility for your actions,and that’s important, and it’s something the court pays attentionto,” Taylor said.