Man found not guilty

Suspect avoids murder conviction, gets 35 years for armed robbery

A man accused of shooting a carnival worker to death during a $50 robbery was found not guilty of murder late Thursday after a retrial. He was found guilty of armed robbery.

Lennie Mickey, 32, went on trial this week in the slaying of 48-year-old Robert Vargo, who was shot in the head and through a pillow after he was forced onto the bed of his North Charleston hotel room.

Mickey was sentenced to a total of 35 years in prison on charges of armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

Circuit Judge Kristi Harrington imposed the sentence.

The first attempt to convict Mickey ended in a hung jury in May.

Prosecutors said Mickey was part of a group that set out to rob Vargo in November 2006 at the Budget Inn on Fain Street. Mickey had recently worked at that year’s Coastal Carolina Fair and was thought to be carrying cash.

Mickey’s defense team said the jury shouldn’t believe three accomplices to the crime, all drug users and prostitutes, who were out to save themselves by pinning blame on Mickey.

Additionally, defense attorney Bill Nixon there was no DNA evidence linking Mickey to the crime scene and that a weapon was not recovered.

Prosecutors said they still consider Mickey to be the shooter in the case.

Another suspect, Shawn Demetrius Phillips was found guilty in the Vargo slaying during a trial earlier this year. He was sentenced to 40 years behind bars.