2 sentenced to 5 years in brutal St. Helena home invasion

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comApril 23, 2013 

Two of the five people charged in a March 2012 home invasion on St. Helena Island, including the stepdaughter of one of the victims, pleaded guilty Tuesday and were sentenced to five years in prison.

Veronica Ruby Mack, 27, and Robert Lee Lane, 25, each pleaded guilty to two counts of kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, strong-arm robbery, aggravated assault and second-degree burglary.

Judge J. Ernest Kinard Jr. sentenced Mack to five years in prison and Lane to 5 1/2 years. Both will get credit for time already served, and each sentence is to be followed by five years of probation. Kinard said Lane received an additional six months because of his criminal record, which includes possession of crack and possession of a stolen pistol.

Loretta Jackson, Mack's stepmother and one of the victims of the home invasion, was disappointed.

"They cannot do what they did and get away with five years," she said. "I'm going to move on with the rest of my life and do the best I can, but justice has not been served."

Prosecutors said Mack "planned and encouraged" the home invasion, but stayed outside the home in a stolen van while the other four charged entered the home and bound Loretta Jackson and her son, Laron Jackson, with duct tape.

Once Laron Jackson was bound, one of the attackers tried to cut off the tip of his big toe with a kitchen knife. After the attacker left Jackson alone, he escaped the house by biting through the duct tape binding his hands and jumping from a second-floor balcony.

After Laron Jackson alerted neighbors, Mack, Lane and the others led deputies on a high-speed chase that ended when the stolen van stopped near the intersection of U.S. 17 and Kinlock Road.

Prosecutors said Lane was found covered in dirt and scratches. Lane told officers he had gotten drunk and slept through the home invasion, but investigators found his DNA on the roll of duct tape used to bind the Jacksons.

The first person sentenced for the home invasion, Jamin Jamal Anderson, 25, pleaded guilty March 19 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Michael Eugene Hawkins, 23, and Veronica Mack's husband, Eric Wendell Mack, 25, both pleaded guilty April 18 and received 15-year sentences.

Loretta Jackson told Veronica Mack and Lane during Tuesday's proceedings that the home invasion had left her unable to sleep at night.

"My life has been torn apart," she said. "I will go on though, because I have God on my side. I pray that they will get God on their side, too."

Both Veronica Mack and Lane's sentences are suspended for 25 years, which means that if they violate the terms of their probation or are arrested for another crime, they likely will have to serve the maximum sentence.

Follow reporter Matt McNab on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.

Related content:

Man, mother escape home invasion on St. Helena that involved stepsister, brother-in-law

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