Beaumont woman pleads guilty to coma theft

The Beaumont woman accused of fraudulently marrying her spouse while he was in a coma pled guilty to felony theft Friday.

Lenora Reese-McNair, 52, was originally charged with exploitation of the elderly, but her attorney Kevin Laine says they had the charge changed to better reflect what he calls the truth.
"The characterization of the offense was very important to us... the community's looking at her in a different way, more of a monster and insensitive person, when it wasn't that at all," said Laine.

Derek McNair, a military veteran, suffered a heart attack in December 2012 and went into a coma for several months before passing away. A probable cause affidavit obtained by 12News last year shows that Reese-McNair filed for a marriage license during that time. Police say the license was notarized by her Reese-McNair's son Jamaal Bush. Bush is set to appear in court May 9.

The document also shows that Reese-McNair then began forging her husband's signature on checks made payable to herself.

Reese-McNnair was given complete ownership of her husband's home in Beaumont's West End, where she and her son lived before being arrested.

Laine claims this was done to protect Derek McNair's assets from certain members of his own family who wanted to get their hands on them.

"Yes, the way she went about the transferring of the property was illegal, it was definitely not to exploit her husband, and in fact had he been in a cognizant state would've consented to all of the transfers," said Lane.

Laine says ownership of the house will likely be transferred back to McNair's estate, but says his client is McNair's common law wife and that she is entitled to half of it anyway.  Laine say the fate of the property may have to be decided in probate court.

Reese-McNnair's sentencing has been scheduled for May 12.  She faces up to 5 years in prison or up to 10 years of probation.



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