Lumpkin strikes plea deal; avoids death penalty for Arrowood murder

Published: Aug. 19, 2013 at 6:02 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2013 at 6:02 PM EDT
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Lori Arrowood
Lori Arrowood

LONG CO., GA (WTOC) - A plea agreement has been reached in death penalty case of Kenneth Lumpkin in Long County.

In November 2011, a grand jury indicted Lumpkin on five counts: malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping and concealing the death of another.

Lumpkin pleaded guilty for felony murder charges for the September 2010 strangling and kidnapping of Lori Arrowood. In court, while Arrowood's family was in court and found out to their surprise, Lumpkin's plea deal will be a guilty plea to felony murder and kidnapping. State prosecutors recommended Lumpkin receive life in prison without parole and they will withdraw the death penalty.

"I believe our evidence was on solid ground and don't think there would be a reversal on appeal but that's never a sure thing," District Attorney Tom Durden told WTOC. "The key was he will never ever get out of incarceration."

An officer testified, revealing new details about how Arrowood was killed. Lumpkin claims he and Arrowood got into an argument and he strangled her, but did not mean to kill her. he then took her body to a location and covered her body in grass. He later would lead authorities to the body.

Arrowood's family wasn't happy with that explanation,  or the plea deal he accepted. They told WTOC the deal shocked them, the new details made reliving the situation even more difficult, and they still believed Lumpkin should have been given the death penalty.

"A life for a life," Kris Elliott, Arrowood's sister, said. "I don't believe it was an accident. I think he went with the intention to kill her."

When Lumpkin entered the courtroom Monday afternoon, the first faces he saw were those of Arrowood's family, including Elliott. She says the whole courtroom experience was emotional and unexpected.

"I didn't know those details. It was very hard to listen to, but he didn't show any remorse. Didn't say sorry. It just ripped our hearts out some more," Elliott said of Lumpkin, who she said had been friends with her sister up until her kidnapping and murder while her husband was deployed.

"Well you saw it. I'll leave it to your viewership to decide if there was remorse," Durden told WTOC.

Instead of facing the death penalty, which is what Arrowood's family wanted, Lumpkin will get life in prison, which began immediately after the plea deal was finalized. Lumpkin was handcuffed and walked past his victim's family one last time.

"This was, from the DA's standpoint, the reasonable way to resolve this case. He has life without parole. He'll never get out of prison and have no possibility it will be reversed on appeal," Durden said.

"I'm disappointed but there are no guarantees in life, as Lori found out," Elliott said. "I don't have to worry about him getting out and hurting someone else."

The family of Arrowood told WTOC they never informed of the plea deal or asked if it was something they supported. Durden said, after three years and more than 70 motions and appeals, it was the best decision to finally resolve the case and give the family closure.

However, Elliott told WTOC, what they really wanted to is, why he killed their loved one. She says it's the question they will never get answered.

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