New mom gets jail time for attempted murder coverup

Teen accused of helping her husband hide gun after shooting

A young woman who two weeks ago gave birth to her first child was sentenced to 30 days in jail and one year of community control for her role in what Washington County prosecutors allege was an attempted murder.

Hanah Clark’s husband, Austin Lightfritz, on May 27 got into an altercation with with his stepfather, fired shots into the air and, prosecutors say, attempted to fire a bullet into the man’s head during an argument outside Ohio Valley Cab on Lancaster Street. Police alleged that Clark assisted Lightfritz in hiding the weapon, a .38 caliber pistol, when authorities came to investigate the report.

Lightfritz, 19, is charged with attempted murder. His trial, originally set for Dec. 10, was continued into the new year at the request of his attorney, Jeffrey Hunter of Columbus, who also represented Clark at her hearing Monday. Lightfritz and Clark, who were both residents of Marietta at the time of the shooting, were granted a marriage license March 5.

Clark appeared in Judge Randall Burnworth’s court Monday morning after traveling from Charlottesville, Va., where she has family and is now living. Her previous hearing had been canceled because of complications from what was described as a high-risk pregnancy. Clark gave birth two weeks ago in Charlottesville.

“You’ve had a baby?” Burnworth said. “Congratulations.”

After being queried by Burnworth on whether she clearly understood the legal implications, Clark – her voice tight with emotion — entered a guilty plea.

Burnworth accepted the plea on the count of tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony, and sentenced her to 30 days in jail, minus two days of time served, and one year of probation, which he said could be transferred to Virginia.

Clark took the opportunity to make a statement, speaking in a low, tremorous voice.

“What happened that summer, I was not involved in it, but I was there, and I shouldn’t have been there,” she said. “I understand how this appears.”

Clark pleaded for an alternative to jail time, such as home detention or serving time on weekends.

Burnworth imposed the jail sentence but granted the defense counsel’s request for a delayed start to allow her to make preparations for her child, such as creating a stock of breast milk. She is to begin serving the 28-day sentence in the Washington County Jail on Jan. 4.

A third-degree felony conviction generally carries a prison term of one to five years and a maximum fine of $10,000. Hunter thanked the court for its leniency.

“As the court noted, Hanah comes with no criminal history. In this incident, she got caught up in a situation not of her making or planning,” Hunter said. “She was pregnant at the time … she didn’t have any choice about certain things she did, but she understands the wrongness of her actions, and she has a newborn, for whom she is the sole source of support.”

Burnworth told Clark to report to the jail Monday after sentencing, after which she would be released to make arrangements with the local probation office and return to Virginia. Clark was taken out in handcuffs by a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy.

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