LAWRENCEBURG — A murder defendant in Anderson County chose Tuesday to take a plea deal in which he will serve the maximum penalty rather than go through a trial.
Gary Bancroft, 33, pleaded guilty to consolidated charges of murder and tampering with physical evidence in the Sept. 4, 2010, death of his girlfriend, Frances Renee Mobley, also 33.
Kentucky State Police found Mobley's body stuffed inside a trash bag in the bathroom of the mobile home she shared with Bancroft.
Under the plea agreement, Bancroft will serve 70 years in prison — 50 years for the murder and tampering, plus 20 more years for being a persistent felony offender. He is not eligible for probation or shock probation, but would be eligible for parole after serving 20 years of his sentence.
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Bancroft, who was scheduled to go on trial in November, would not have faced the death penalty because there were no "aggravating circumstances" — an accompanying crime or circumstances such as robbery — said public defender Scott Getsinger.
"The commonwealth made an offer. I talked with him and advised him not to take the offer, but he was insistent," Getsinger said.
Bancroft wanted to take the deal "to atone for what happened," Getsinger added. "It's his call."
Asked if she was surprised by Bancroft's decision, Commonwealth's Attorney Laura Witt Donnell said, "I am surprised when anyone is willing to accept the full penalty of the offense."
Donnell said she and the family had determined they would not make a plea offer unless Bancroft would accept the maximum penalty. "He accepted," she said.
Sentencing is scheduled for June 9 before Anderson Circuit Court Judge Charles Hickman.
As early as February, Bancroft had indicated that he wanted to enter a plea, according to court records.
"I am writing you to propose a plea bargain," Bancroft wrote in a letter addressed to Donnell. "There is no question as to my guilt in this case. Why drag this out and spend any more time or money? I will sign for a life sentence with 20 to the parole board. I, being competent and understanding my rights to trial, make this offer so the state can cease wasting their time and money on me when I am guilty.
"Let's get this case over with so that the victim's family can have closure and get on with their lives," Bancroft continued in the letter. "There is no reason to have a trial or even have a jury to decide my sentence. I am willing to sign as soon as you are able to write it up. Let's all move on and get this behind us."
He signed the letter, "Thank you. Gary M. Bancroft."
Mobley died after she and Bancroft got into an argument that escalated to the point where she swung at him with a knife and cut him, according to police records in the court file. Bancroft later told a man who lived near his mobile home, "I sliced her from ear to ear and put her in a trash bag in the bathroom."
The neighbor told police that Bancroft had tried to dig a hole near the closed Western Elementary School and about 10 to 20 feet from U.S. 62. The school is diagonally across the road from Bancroft's trailer, which later was destroyed in a fire.
Police later discovered a freshly dug hole near Bardstown Road. A shovel was standing in the hole, an affidavit said.
Last month, an Anderson County grand jury indicted Bancroft on one count of being a persistent felony offender.
He was convicted in Alaska on felony theft and burglary charges, according to the Anderson County indictment. He also "escaped from custody on at least one of the previous felony convictions," the indictment said.