Two people who robbed a Bell County man and threw him off a bridge to his death last year pleaded guilty Friday for a sentence of life without parole.
Paul Slusher, 70, a well-known widower in Fourmile, had befriended Lora A. Amburgey, a Pineville woman with a young son, family members said last year. Amburgey and her boyfriend, Joshua K. Parsons, also of Pine ville, robbed Slusher on Jan. 26, 2009, stealing his wallet, old coins, guns and jewelry. They threatened him with a knife, tied him up and dumped him off the bridge.
Amburgey and Parsons were arrested the next day after Slusher's family called police, who found the couple with Slusher's belongings in their car. Police said Amburgey implicated Parsons, who confessed to the murder and said Amburgey had helped him.
"I feel that it would have come out that she was a mastermind," Kentucky State Police Det. Doyle Halcomb said. "Parsons was following her lead."
"They were known to prey on local people who were giving, churches and such," Halcomb said. He said a church had given Amburgey the van she was driving.
Slusher's body was found a week later, downriver from a concrete bridge that carries Route 1344 over the Cumberland River at Page. Commonwealth's Attorney Karen Greene Blondell said evidence that the prosecution planned to present indicated that Slusher was alive when he was thrown off the bridge.
"This was certainly a solid case that had been worked by Kentucky State Police," she said. "You don't get pleas to life without parole without solid evidence."
The case was set for pre-trial conference in a week, Blondell said, and the plea agreement was made with the authorization of Slusher's family and investigating officers.
Parsons pleaded guilty to murder, kidnapping, tampering with physical evidence and first-degree robbery, and Amburgey pleaded guilty to complicity in the kidnapping and murder, tampering with evidence and first-degree robbery.
If the two had been convicted at trial, they could have been sentenced to death.
Sentencing was set for July 2, but court documents signed by attorneys and Slusher's family propose life without parole on the murder and kidnapping charges, five years for tampering with evidence, and 20 years for robbery, to be served concurrently.