Originally created 11/05/04

Man receives life sentence



A man accused of hacking another man to death last year during an armed robbery avoided the death penalty Thursday by pleading guilty to murder.

District Attorney Danny Craig said Jeffrey Lee Huckabee pleaded guilty to charges of felony and malice murder before Judge Albert M. Pickett.

Court documents state that Mr. Huckabee, who spent his 22nd birthday at the Richmond County jail Monday, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Mr. Huckabee was accused of killing Anthony Scott Nattinger, 26, in March 2003 with a pickax while he lay on a sofa at his home, then stealing Mr. Nattinger's stereo equipment and 1994 Ford Explorer.

The attack, investigators alleged, was part of a plot among two other defendants to rob Mr. Nattinger of his expected tax refund check.

Mr. Nattinger's body was found inside his residence at St. Barts Condominiums off Wheeler Road, where he had suffered several skull fractures as a result of the attack, The Augusta Chronicle previously reported.

Mr. Huckabee's co-conspirators, Laura Solomon, 22, and Jarrod Clark, 20, pleaded guilty in 2003 to lesser charges.

Both were sentenced to 10 years in prison and five years on probation for theft and hindering the apprehension of a criminal, Richmond County court records state.

Court records show that Mr. Huckabee also pleaded guilty to burglary, for which he was sentenced to 20 years, and armed robbery, for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

With his guilty plea, Mr. Huckabee waived his right to appeal the judgment against him to higher courts, the documents state.

Mr. Craig had earlier sought the death penalty against Mr. Huckabee.

The unified appeals hearing process, which is a preliminary process for death penalty trials in the state, ended Tuesday, with Judge Pickett setting a trial date that would have begun Monday.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.