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Assault suspect arrested day after walking out of Cumberland court

Posted January 25, 2011
Updated January 26, 2011

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— One day after a Cumberland County man charged with maiming a boy walked out of plea negotiations and disappeared, authorities arrested him Tuesday afternoon.

Todd Louis Lanford, 36, of 6614 Clinton Road, was taken into custody at about 2:45 p.m. at a Days Inn off U.S. Highway 701 in Clinton, authorities said.

Lanford proclaimed his innocence as authorities led him to the Cumberland County Detention Center.

"I did what I had to do, because the whole time I heard, 'Take a plea. Take a plea. We know you didn't do it, but take a plea.' I will not take a plea for something I did not do," he said.

Lanford was arrested in November 2008 after investigators determined that an 11-year-old Stedman boy had been punched, kicked and choked. The boy also suffered a 3-inch cut along his genitals and bruises to his groin and pelvic area, but he wasn't sexually assaulted, authorities said.

Lanford is charged with assault on a child under the age of 12, first-degree sex offense, taking indecent liberties with a child, assault by strangulation, felonious child abuse inflicting serious injury and malicious castration.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of 90 years in prison, but Debbie Tanna, a spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office, said Lanford's attorney and prosecutors were working on a deal Monday in which he would plead guilty to some charges and receive a 20-year sentence.

"Obviously, he wasn't happy with that," Tanna said.

Todd Lanford arrested Assault suspect says he ran because Cumberland court unfair

Lanford, who has been out on a $35,000 bond for two years while awaiting trial, didn't return to the Cumberland County Courthouse on Monday to continue with plea negotiations, Tanna said. Courthouse security wasn't compromised, she said, because Lanford wasn't in custody.

"The reason I didn't show up for court is because, when (my) case is heard in Cumberland County court, I will not get a fair trial," Lanford said. "I thought I had a couple more days of freedom, to be honest with you. I didn't they these guys were going to find me so fast."

He declined to say how he got to the motel or where he was planning to go.

U.S. marshals and other law enforcement officers from across the region helped Cumberland County deputies search for Lanford, who now also faces a failure to appear in court charge.

"I can't say how we actually tracked him down, but that's what we do," Deputy Marshal Brandon Taylor said.

The boy's mother, Tonia Michelle Powers, 37, who was Lanford's girlfriend at the time, was charged with aiding and abetting a felony and accessory after the fact in the case. Her charges are still pending.

The boy now lives with other relatives.


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  • bl19442 Jan 27, 2011

    From what I'am reading from different comments we are guilty until proven innocent, I thought is was the other way around!
    Our society is evolving into a socialistic state and is not healthy for any of us Americans to let this happen. Until all the facts are in front of US let us not judge.

  • 1 awesome Dad Jan 26, 2011

    People like this give LEO's a bad name. He should have been tasered for resisting arrest or something.

  • 1 awesome Dad Jan 26, 2011

    Mr. Lanford as you sit in jail and await your sentence just remember where you're going you wont use your genitals either so hope you enjoyed yours while you can

  • 1 awesome Dad Jan 26, 2011

    outback you are right in the innocent proven guilty...

    This child knows who chopped off his privates and beat him like a dog and if he didnt do it then momma did it but both them deserve the full extent of the law as the old saying goes one rat is good as another.

  • 1 awesome Dad Jan 26, 2011

    my prayers go out to that young man and I cannot fathom what all he is going through but Momma and Daddy need to have the same thing done to them and many times over.

  • 1 awesome Dad Jan 26, 2011

    How many other kids has he been around since he made bail??

  • 1 awesome Dad Jan 26, 2011

    Quit criticizing the grammar and focus on this horrific and barbaric act comitted against a child and you complain about grammar. This man is a monster for what he did to this child and needs to be punished accordingly and the focus should not be on some grammar errors but focused on this man and his actions.

  • outback1967 Jan 26, 2011

    what ever happened to innocent until proven guilty...

  • 1 awesome Dad Jan 26, 2011

    I hope I serve on that jury

  • 1 awesome Dad Jan 26, 2011

    The only fair thing to do to this man is the same thing that happened to the child. Children are scared of the boogeyman now they are scared of their own family.

    I say give the full deal and see how he lasts in the good old NC big house.