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Convicted Kidnapping Accomplice Gets Life Sentence

November 5, 1991

JASPER, Ala. (AP) _ A woman got a life prison sentence Tuesday after admitting she helped her cousin kidnap a woman who remains missing although her family paid a $300,000 ransom.

Karen McPherson, 30, pleaded guilty to kidnapping Carrie Lawson on Sept. 11. Mrs. McPherson said she drove her cousin, Jerry Bland, to the Lawson home the night of the abduction and was with Mrs. Lawson briefly at the beginning of her captivity, but does not know where Bland took her.

Bland committed suicide Oct. 1 as authorities staked out his home in Jasper. Most of the ransom money was recovered in the house, but Bland died without telling where he took Mrs. Lawson.

Circuit Judge James Brotherton imposed the life sentence on Mrs. McPherson, of Cullman, and strongly recommended she not be given parole.

District Attorney Charles Baker said authorities believe Mrs. McPherson does not know where Bland took Mrs. Lawson.

Defense attorney Tom Drake said Mrs. McPherson agreed to plead guilty in exchange for not being prosecuted on a capital charge carrying a possible death penalty.

The search for Mrs. Lawson, 25, of Jasper, remained active, with authorities targeting a Tuscaloosa County coal mine Bland wanted to buy and reopen, Baker said.

Mrs. Lawson, a native of Cleveland, Tenn., graduated earlier this year from the University of Alabama Law School at Tuscaloosa.

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