Rangerette kidnapper pleads guilty

Motes faces two concurrent 5-year sentences

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On Dec. 29, 2016, Nancy Motes abducted Rangerette Alexa Blair at gunpoint and left her mother, 'Rette director Dana Blair, bound in their Longview home. On Monday, Motes pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated kidnapping in a Gregg County Courtroom.

The 59-year-old was sentenced to two concurrent 5-year terms April 29. Following her court appearance, Motes must serve 50% before she is eligible for parole.

Motes appeared in Gregg County's 124th District Court Monday morning with friends and family and took a seat on the left side of the courtroom. Earlier, her two victims – Dana and Alexa Blair, the Kilgore College Rangerette Director and her daughter whom Motes attacked in Dec. 2016 – took a seat on the right side.

At approximately 9:25 a.m., Motes, along with her lawyer David Moore, entered a plea of guilty on two counts of aggravated kidnapping.

Judge David Brabham asked Motes for her plea. She answered guilty on both counts, one count of aggravated kidnapping with a deadly weapon against Alexa Blair and one count of aggravated kidnapping with deadly force against Dana Blair.

Reading a Victim Impact Statement, husband and father Chris Blair said the family to this day doesn’t understand why Motes attacked them.

“I'm still trying to grasp the fact that you put my daughter in a storage unit, bound her ankles and mouth with tape and applied enough pressure during that until she passed out,” he said. “You left her there for dead and just walked out and went home to have dinner with your husband as if it was another routine day.

“Just think about that. You have a daughter the same age. How could you do that to our daughter?”

Before accepting the plea, Brabham asked Motes if she understood the charges and if she understood her right to a jury trial. Motes replied she understood and wished to waive her right to a trial by jury.

Brabham asked Moore to comment on Motes' mental competency.

"Your Honor, I have been representing Nancy since shortly after this incident occurred. She does have some history of psychological issues and counseling," Moore said. "More than 20 years ago, she was in an abusive relationship in Montana, where she had head injuries and had to receive counseling and treatment for those head injuries."

According to Moore, Motes received additional psychological treatment and evaluation since the kidnapping, but she did understand her actions and the consequences of them.

"I do believe she's competent."

Moore told the judge the defendant was evaluated by Dr. Wade French of Tyler, who issued a letter affirming her mental competency.

Brabham confirmed Motes entered into a plea agreement to serve 5 years, on each count, in the Texas Department of Corrections. Each charge of aggravated kidnapping, a first degree felony, is punishable by no less than 5 years and up to 99 years or life in prison.

Judge Alfonso Charles sits on the bench in the 124th District Court. Brabham retired from the 188th in December, and presided over Monday's proceedings in Charles' absence.

Motes' sentences will run concurrently and she must serve 50 percent of her sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

As a condition of the agreement, Motes waived her right to appeal.

The Blairs have a civil suit pending against Motes, seeking unspecified damages of more than $200,000 but less than $1 million.

Former Gregg County Assistant District Attorney Chris Botto represented the state Monday, working as a special prosecutor after Gregg DA Tom Watson recused himself from the case after taking office in January.

Botto told the court the case had been delayed, in part, because of the time spent analyzing evidence. DNA swabs were collected from the crime scene and the Blairs at the time of the incident but not from Motes, he said. By the time her DNA had been collected and analyzed, the case was well underway, Botto added; waiting for the DNA evidence caused a six-month delay.

The special prosecutor also commented on the sentence.

“I've spoken to the family on multiple occasions. Although everyone from the state's perspective thinks Mrs. Motes deserves much more time than what she's getting, we also understand that she was eligible for probation and could have gotten probation from the judge or jury,” he said. “We also understand that there are mitigating factors out there that would have been presented to a judge or jury. To eliminate the option of probation, the family understands what we're doing today.”

After Motes signed a document confirming her agreement to the plea deal and the sentence, Brabham called on the Blairs to give a victim impact statement.

Alexa and Dana stood and faced Motes and Moore as Chris Blair – Dana’s husband, Alexa’s father – read a prepared statement on behalf of the family.

Blair began by thanking the Longview Police Department, friends and pastors for their support over the months since December 2016.

“851 days have passed since that day in December. You, Mrs. Motes, have enjoyed those days of freedom by living life as if nothing ever happened, denying that you were involved in this crime,” he said. “You have inflicted pain, anxiety and enormous emotional stress on our family as we waited for this day to come. I want you to know that on that night, you were extremely lucky. I always carry a gun and if I had pulled up to my house and seen you taking my daughter out of my home, I would have used it.”

He praised the bravery and level-headed actions of his wife and daughter while stating the family still had no idea why Motes targeted them. He thanked God for the safety of Dana and Alexa and said he could not understand Motes' actions.

Blair said he and others believe Motes deserves more time in prison, but he’s thankful she would see some punishment. He also said he was grateful to still have his wife and daughter by his side.

“At the end of this nightmare, I too was very lucky. I could have lost the two most important people in my life but, by the grace of God, they are still here. We have forever been changed by your actions but we have learned even more to trust in the Lord at all times and that when we were unable to protect our daughter, the Lord was there for her and for us all.”

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