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Jefferson City woman pleads guilty to trying to help inmates to escape

A Jefferson City woman pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to unsuccessfully trying to help a jail inmate escape.

35-year-old Amanda Leigh Lesh admitted to smuggling a hacksaw blade into a Morgan County Jail cell shared by Mitchell Atterberry and Steven Pyykhola. Atterberry is in jail on federal charges of meth distribution while Pyykola is serving three consecutive life sentences for three murder charges.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s deputies received a tip on November 14, 2012 and searched the jail cell. They found a ten-inch saw blade and two-inch saw blade in the mat of the top bunk.

Deputies also found the window had been damaged and a metal support beam had been cut most of the way through.

After reviewing phone calls between Atterberry, Pyykola and Lesh, investigators learned the two inmates asked Lesh to purchase saw blade and deliver them to their cell. The inmates allegedly hung a string out the window for Lesh to ties the items to and then pulled the items up into the cell.

A day before the deputies received the tip, Atterberry told Lesh in a recorded phone call that they had hoped to escape that night. Investigators also say Lesh told the inmates she would pick them up and even buy them clothing.

Lesh faces up to five years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

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