Clark gets probation in murder case

Published 1:07 pm Friday, July 30, 2010

Ida Hays Clark, 53, was given 48 months of probation yesterday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit voluntary manslaughter among other charges associated with the murder of her brother, Jay Clark, V.

After hearing harsh statements from Clark’s brother, George Clark, who at times stared at Hays Clark during his victim’s statement, Judge Phillip Ginn sentenced Hays Clark to probation that includes a year of going to Lydia’s Place, a transitional rehabilitation center in Rutherford County.

Protesters said they were shocked that the court allowed longer statements from Hays Clark’s attorney Lee Atkins than from family members. Atkins spoke of Hays Clark’s “newly found life purpose and journey,” saying she is now “a person who on a daily basis is helping others.”

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Hays Clark pled guilty to felony breaking and entering, felony larceny, possession of a stolen vehicle, conspiracy to commit voluntary manslaughter and solicitation to commit voluntary manslaughter. The maximum sentence for all the charges combined could have been 256 months in prison.

Ginn handed down separate sentences for each to run consecutively, including one term of 25 to 39 months at the N.C. Department of Corrections (DOC), one term of 16 to 20 months at the DOC, two terms of six to eight months at the DOC and one term of four to six months at the DOC with 120 days of credit for time already served. The active sentences were suspended to include six months of intensive, or supervised probation, 42 months of regular probation, one year at Lydia’s Place, a $500 fine and attorney fees.

In handing down the sentence, Ginn reminded Clark that any mistakes will most likely mean she will serve her jail sentence.

“I’ve given you sufficient rope to pull yourself out of the mud,” Ginn told Clark. “I’ve also given you sufficient rope to hang yourself if that’s what you want to do.”

Jay Clark V’s son, Jamison Clark, and brother, George Clark took the stand to tell the court what their dad and brother’s murder has done to the family.

Jamison said he is his father’s voice and expressed discouragement in how the case was handled and said he feels that no one is being held accountable. Trent Allen Miller, Hays Clark’s then-boyfriend, pled guilty last November to second degree murder and was sentenced to a minimum of 13 to 16 years, with credit for approximately three years of time already served.

“We’ve had to deal with so much,” Jamison Clark said. “I hope and pray that she serves every single day.”

George Clark said this murder affected the whole community. There were 52 people sitting in court who protested this week in front of the courthouse carrying signs and wearing T-shirts asking for Hays Clark to go to jail.

“This is the greatest tragedy anyone could imagine,” George Clark said. “I feel very bad for the people that had to go into that house when brains were still on the ceiling and bones were still in the fireplace.” (see George Clark’s full statement above).

Ginn apologized to Jamison Clark especially, saying he was sorry for his loss of a close family member as well as for what transpired throughout the process.

There was also some mention yesterday of mistakes made at the sheriff’s office under the administration of former sheriff Chris Abril. The judge and attorney Atkins both made it clear that the case was not able to go to trial because of how the evidence in the case was handled at the sheriff’s office.

Jay Clark V disappeared in January, 2006, and his body was discovered in September 2006 buried beside Hays Clark’s home, where she, Miller and Jay Clark were living. Autopsy results showed that Jay Clark was shot in the back of the head with a shotgun and his arms and legs were dismembered with a chainsaw with some of his remains burned in a wood stove.

Atkins said yesterday that Hays Clark did not know Miller had killed her brother.

“Ms. Clark tells me she did not go into that room,” Atkins told the court.

“She just couldn’t bring herself to believe that Jay was dead. This was a man she housed and fed for several years.”

Although George Clark said his sister has shown no remorse nor ever said she was sorry for her involvement in their brother’s murder, Atkins said she has shown remorse to him and many others.

Hays Clark did not offer any comment in court yesterday.