A Nashville man was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars for killing a woman during a violent burglary gone awry.
Lee Allen Mayhew, 46, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Tuesday, plus 55 years for the murder of 53-year-old Bonnie Lanier Rushing inside her home in Georgia in October 2020.
Authorities said that the day before Rushing was killed, Mayhew burglarized a separate residence and stole multiple items, including several guns. The homeowner contacted the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Department, and deputies identified Mayhew as the prime suspect because he was then on the run from authorities in Tennessee for firearms-related violations, according to the news outlet Grice Connect.
In response to the first break-in and Mayhew’s wanted status, the U.S. Marshals Service issued an alert about him, warning people not to approach him. Hours before she died, Rushing shared that alert on her Facebook page, according to Savannah, Georgia-based ABC affiliate WJCL.
On Oct. 23, 2022, five miles from the first burglary, Rushing’s home was broken into. She was discovered, shot, and killed.
By the week’s end, Mayhew had also been found along with Rushing’s stolen GMC Acadia in Columbia County, Florida.
He was charged with felony murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, theft by taking a motor vehicle, and burglary.
A trial began on the first of the month and lasted three days, according to the Statesboro Herald.
On Feb. 3, after less than two hours of deliberation, he was found guilty on one count of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault, two counts of burglary in the first degree, one count of possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of or attempt to commit certain felonies, five counts theft by taking, and one count receipt/possession or transfer of firearm by a convicted felon or felony first offender, WJCL reported.
Mayhew testified in his defense, according to Savannah-based CBS affiliate WTOC.
During that testimony, he reportedly owned up to the burglaries but insisted he was not responsible for Rushing’s death, the TV station reported.
Mayhew also admitted to pawning some of Rushing’s belonging to keep himself afloat while on the lam and offered to buy back those items for her surviving family, provided law enforcement could find them.
Rushing’s family was not moved by his testimony.
“You got on the stand and teared up talking about not being there for your mother,” Pat Lanier Jones, the dead woman’s sister, said during a victim impact statement. “I wanted to slap the living crap out of you. You took their mother’s life when they were 18 and 23.”
Mike Rushing, the victim’s husband, directly addressed Mayhew’s professed innocence.
“That was a slap in the face,” he said in comments reported by WTOC. “An insult is what it was. Just to add to it. That didn’t go over at all.”
The husband also noted how the community has rallied to the family’s aid since that night so many years ago.
“It’s been said many times ‘Be a Bonnie’…’ Be a Bonnie’– help people, support them as best you can,” Mike Rushing said.
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