Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Getaway driver, one-half of Norwalk's 'Bonnie & Clyde,' released early from prison

Honestly, Cary's Comics Craze isn't becoming the now defunct Cary's Crime Craze — the original version of CCC, when I wrote reviews and thoughts about episodes of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." Eventually, I started letting my fanboy flag wave more and more on the NORWALK REFLECTOR TV blog (one of a few at the time, actually!) and the original CCC became the first online home of Cary's Comics Craze.

But honestly, it's been slow on the cape-and-cowl-crowd front.
The most recent prison mug shot of Megan R. Lillo
(For the record, 2009 to 2010 was a great time to be a "CSI" fan. I had many great topics about which I could blog: Grissom (William Petersen's character) was wrapping up his run; Grissom and Sara's relationship was all over the place; there was a zany crossover with "Two and a Half Men;" Gary Dourdan's very likable but tortured investigator Warrick Brown dove into a lifestyle of gambling and substance and was killed off; and Laurence Fishburne joined the cast as Dr. Raymond Langston. Suuuuch good stuff!)

The most recent prison mug shot of Kurtis DeWitt
Back on topic. The following is a court-coverage story I wrote, which was published in Wednesday's REFLECTOR.

The defendant, former Norwalk resident Megan R. Lillo, was the getaway driver for one-half of a 2009 crime spree with her then-boyfriend, Kurtis J. DeWitt. I won't repeat my personal name for him, but I dubbed the couple "Norwalk's Bonnie & Clyde" for a story in a series of high-profile stories the newsroom covered in 2009.

Their day-time armed robbery of Kaiser Wells Pharmacy & Healthcare in Norwalk, Ohio is a doozie of a story by itself — especially when you consider DeWitt wore an ankle monitor from another criminal case when he committed the crime. And Lillo was driving a hard-to-miss red Pontiac Grand Am. Look for links to several of the REFLECTOR stories I wrote about their case (and I wrote a mess of them!) in the following story — several of which I added to this online version.

On a more serious note, I wish Miss Lillo nothing but the best as she works toward being the productive member of society she said she can be. She deserves a great life and the twinkle in her eyes I saw when she was in court Monday. She had a brightness to her I didn't see six-plus years ago.

NORWALK, Ohio — Getaway driver Megan R. Lillo was released early from prison Monday.

Citing her “glowing reports” from the Northeast Pre-Release Center, Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway said the feedback on her behalf was the best he’d seen from anybody who has been in prison. He said Lillo was called “an ideal prisoner” who took advantage of the many programs offered behind bars and in addition, she “went above and beyond” by helping other inmates.

However, the judge had a warning for the 27-year-old former Norwalk resident.

The mug shots of DeWitt and Lillo taken at the Huron County (Ohio) Jail.
Conway said it’s unusual for him to grant early release to someone with the convictions she has and due to that, Lillo will have to “walk a finer line” than other defendants granted early release. He had denied Lillo’s application multiple times.

In late July 2010, Lillo started serving nine years and 11 months in prison for multiple convictions. She was convicted of being the getaway driver for the Kaiser Wells Pharmacy & Homecare robbery and smuggling the stolen Oxycontin pills into the jail inside of her body. The robbery happened April 15, 2009.

Defense attorney K. Ronald Bailey said Monday he wishes he could see defendants do as much good outside of prison as Lillo did when she was behind bars.

Her accomplice and one-time live-in boyfriend, Kurtis J. DeWitt, now 30, and Lillo also received prison terms for the Oct. 20, 2009 burglary of a Greenwich veterans’ group home in which Lillo was the getaway driver. The incident happened when Lillo was out on bond. 

After almost two days of jury selection and four full days of testimony, a jury found Lillo guilty of six felonies: Aggravated robbery, robbery, possession of Oxycontin, complicity to theft of drugs, conveying contraband into a detention facility and tampering with evidence.

(Here's a story about testimony wrapping up in the late July 2010 jury trial. And don't forget this story in which Lillo hid nearly two-dozen Oxycodone pills "in her feminine area" when she was booked into the Huron County Jail; that's covered in this story I wrote.) 

DeWitt is serving 15 years in prison for similar offenses. He entered Kaiser Wells wearing a mask fashioned out of Lillo’s pajama pants with a knife in his pocket and left the Benedict Avenue business after the pharmacist gave him 499 Oxycontin pills. (Here's the story I wrote just after the robbery and DeWitt was arrested.)

Huron County Prosecutor Daivia Kasper said the state spoke to the Kaiser Wells clerks about Lillo’s application for early release.

“The clerks did not oppose judicial release,” Kasper said Monday.

During her five years of intensive probation, Lillo can’t have any contact with DeWitt and must reimburse Kaiser Wells $500. She also can’t be on the premises of the Benedict Avenue pharmacy.

Lillo’s probation officer has the option of when to impose part or all of a 90-day jail sentence. She will be supervised at a high level. Conway told her if she violates her probation, it’s likely prosecutors will file a complaint and he probably will sentence her to prison.

“I’m not the person I was in 2009,” said Lillo, also telling Conway she is capable of being a productive member of society.

Lillo’s father and sister were in court Monday to support her. The defendant had bright eyes and a big smile — a big contrast compared to when her case went to trial.

Now-retired Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler
tried both Lillo and DeWitt's cases before juries.
Now-retired Prosecutor Russell Leffler, who tried both cases and retired May 31, has said authorities didn’t believe Lillo was “the danger to society” that DeWitt is.

The couple lived together on Bank Street in Norwalk when they committed the crime spree. When Lillo was sentenced to prison, she was about to give birth to DeWitt’s child. She has a son from a previous relationship. Lillo broke up with DeWitt, who was the subject of a civil protection order. The couple had been dating since June 2003.

Dubbed “Norwalk’s Bonnie and Clyde” by the NORWALK REFLECTOR in a series of high-profile stories for 2009, the couple talked about the domestic violence and verbal abuse in their relationship on the “Dr. Phil” TV show. Earlier in the year, the celebrity gossip website TMZ.com put DeWitt and Lillo on its list of “Train Wrecks.” Lillo's mother even testified about their "bad relationship" during her daughter's multi-day trial.

“The two of them together were far worse than by themselves,” Leffler said in 2010 during Lillo's sentencing hearing.

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