WINCHESTER — Larry Lee Mullenax III had second thoughts about pleading guilty to murdering Sarah Michelle Curran.
In a letter to Judge William Warner Eldridge IV filed June 11 in Frederick County Circuit Court, Mullenax blamed being on the wrong medication for his March 30 plea bargain. He sought to withdraw from the agreement and recant any incriminating statements.
“I battle with mental illness. So I was not in the right state of mind,” Mullenax wrote in the letter. “I humbly request a new investigation be done as you see fit.”
But in court Wednesday, Mullenax changed his mind and agreed to be sentenced at 9 a.m. Sept. 28. The 26-year-old Mullenax faces up to 50 years imprisonment for the first-degree murder of Curran in a homeless encampment off Baker Lane and Fort Collier Road on July 16. As part of the agreement, charges of stabbing in commission of felony, concealment of a body and conspiracy to concealment were dropped.
Police said Mullenax confessed to choking, trying to drown and stabbing Curran before smashing her head with a rock. Encampment residents told The Winchester Star that Mullenax had been living in a tent with Curran and Clara Ann Perdue. They said Curran, who previously dated Mullenax, argued with Mullenax about him dating Perdue. One resident said Mullenax later bragged about killing Curran and taking her bank card.
According to police, Perdue told them Mullenax discussed killing Curran for weeks before her death. Perdue, 37, has been charged with concealment of a body but in March was ruled mentally unfit to stand trial. A hearing to review her mental status is scheduled for 9 a.m. Sept. 14.
The 22-year-old Curran, who had Asperger's Syndrome, was a Handley High School graduate who volunteered at the Congregational Community Action Project food pantry and the Frederick County Esther Boyd Animal Shelter. Friends said she was generous and outgoing.