Stacey Lannert's Legal Battle

Stacey Lannert
Stacey Lannert.

No Defense for Battered Children:

Stacey's defense attorney wanted to admit evidence of Battered Spouse Syndrome; defined as the physical, emotional and psychological injuries in a person subjected to abuse by a spouse or domestic partner. Missouri had no provision for this defense to cover battered children. However, Lannert's attorney argued that case law specifically says a battered woman does not have to be a spouse.

A Case of Self Defense:

The prosecution objected to the defense bringing expert testimony on Battered Spouse Syndrome because the case law states that such evidence can only be admissible if the defendant lawfully acted in self-defense or defense of another. Stacey's lawyer had not shown that Stacey's actions were based on self-defense and the expert testimony was not permitted. Stacey's lawyer then tried to prove that Stacey suffered from a mental disease or defect.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder:

Evidence that Stacey had been subjected to her father's abuse was permitted along with expert testimony on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events, which in Stacey's case would be the violent personal assaults and rape she experienced repeatedly by her father.

Reliving the Nightmares:

People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be severe enough to significantly impair the person's daily life, including occupational instability, marital problems and divorces, family discord, and difficulties in parenting.

The Prosecution's Case:

The prosecution's case included experts who testified that Stacey was in full control of her actions when she shot her father and knew the difference of right from wrong, proving she was not legally insane at the time of the shooting.

Self Defense Could Not Be Proved:

Because Stacey's father was asleep when she shot him, the defense could not prove that Stacey was in any immediate physical danger, therefore the trial court refused to instruct the jury on self-defense.

The jury, unable to consider self-defense or hear argument for Battered Spouse Syndrome, considered Stacey to be the 'aggressor' and agreed with the prosecution that the defense had failed to prove Stacey was mentally ill at the time that she killed her father.

The Verdict:

In late 1992, Stacey Lannert was convicted of first-degree murder and received the mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of probation or parole.

Christy Lannert:

Christy Lannert confessed to conspiring to commit murder and was sentenced to five years in prison. She was released after serving two and a half years.

Current Status of Stacey's Legal Battles:

Stacey Lannert has exhausted all of her legal appeals. She currently has a clemency petition pending before Governor Matt Blunt who took office in January 2005. A decision could come at any time.

The Court of Appeals Eighth District Reluctantly Concurs:

The Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit that reviewed Stacey Lannert's case stated the following:

The 'absence of aggression or provocation on the part of the defender' element of the Missouri self-defense statute does not articulate a time frame during which the initial act of aggression and the act of self-defense must occur.

It is therefore deeply troubling that the jury was not completely informed of the scope of the abuse Lannert suffered, her fear, or her rage that her sister may also have been victimized by their father. This evidence of Battered Spouse Syndrome might have placed Lannert's actions in proper context, and may have allowed a jury to conclude that Lannert was not the initial aggressor on the night of her father's death, potentially resulting in a very different outcome than what she faces today. Because the Missouri courts have the authority to interpret the state's Battered Spouse Syndrome statute, however, I reluctantly concur. CLERK, U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, EIGHTH CIRCUIT.

Stacey Lannert has been a model prisoner during the last 11 years of her incarceration. Currently, along with other things, she trains dogs to go into the homes of the handicapped and works with other inmates who are victims of child abuse.


On Jan. 16, 2009, Stacey Lannert was released from prison. Former Governor Matt Blunt believed that Lannert was sexually abused by her father and commuted her life sentence to 20 years. She was released after serving 18 years.