Tony Sharpe Pleads Guilty to Murdering Gail Smith in 2009

Posted: August 12, 2013

The Winchester Star

(UPDATED 12:40 P.M.) Deborah L. Smith, Gail and Timothy Smith's sister, was arrested this afternoon on charges related to Gail's death.

Smith, 61, was arrested on indictments of capital murder and conspiracy to commit murder - both obtained through the multi-jurisdictional grand jury, according to a media release from the Berryville Police Department.

She was taken into custody at her residence on Racoon Crossing Road in Burkeville by members of the Prince Edwards County Sheriff's Office, Berryville Police Department and Clarke County Sheriff's Office.

The media release states that an order issued by the Clarke County Circuit Court prevents any furter comments to be made about the case.

UPDATED 11:55 A.M. (added language from plea agreement, including recommended sentence)

BERRYVILLE – Four years after Berryville Town Council Member Gail Smith was murdered in her home, the man who shot her pleaded guilty this morning to pulling the trigger.

Tony Sharpe, 26, of Farmville, pleaded guilty this morning in Clarke County Circuit Court to a lesser charge of first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and shooting another person in the commission of a felony.

Sharpe and Smith’s brother, Timothy Smith Jr., 53, of Burkeville, were charged with capital murder on March 21. Both men faced a potential death penalty sentence.

According to plea agreement, Sharpe will be sentenced to between 25-35 years in prison. The ultimate sentence will be determined by a judge at a sentencing hearing. He will not be sentenced until other cases related to the murder are resolved. He is next due in court on Dec. 16.

The agreement also says that he will fully cooperate in the continuing investigation into the death of Gail Smith.

Smith’s case was continued to Oct. 16.

Clarke County Commonwealth’s Attorney Suni Mackall said in the proffer of evidence that Sharpe, after his arrest, admitted responsibility for the shooting, acknowledged that he had been hired to kill Gail Smith, and identified his co-conspirators.

Mackall did not give details of the shooting due to the sensitivity of the case and other ongoing cases.

Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. accepted the plea agreement. Wetsel also allowed a request that Sharpe be transferred to Piedmont Regional Jail. He and Smith have been held at the Northwest Regional Adult Detention Center.

Smith was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head in her Pickett Court home on July 30, 2009.

Sharpe has previously been described in search warrants as a “person of interest” in the investigation.

According to court documents, he asked a relative to obtain a gun for him in June 2009 and visited the Winchester area with Timothy Smith on the weekend of July 25-26 — less than a week before the murder.

“Statements made by Tony M. Sharpe himself, as well as cellular phone records, provide enough information to place him near the area of the victim’s residence on the weekend of her murder,” states a July 29, 2010, search warrant, filed in Clarke County Circuit Court.

Sharpe subsequently received $2,000 from Timothy Smith and told his brother-in-law that he was expecting another $900, according to court documents.

Since the murder, investigators have uncovered information regarding multiple plots to have Gail Smith killed, but no one had been charged with the crime until March.

Timothy Smith has been at the center of many of those plots, and Deborah Smith also has been linked to attempts to have her sister killed.

According to documents in Clarke County Circuit Court, Timothy Smith and his sister had argued with Gail Smith about their father’s finances.

Smith Sr. suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and Gail Smith asked the Clarke County Circuit Court in 2009 to appoint her as his guardian and conservator of his property.

After his death, it was estimated that his assets and real estate were worth about $750,000, according to information obtained by The Winchester Star.

Timothy Smith recently served a two-year prison term for one count of criminal solicitation for the murder of Gail Smith after entering an Alford plea in Nottoway County Circuit Court on Aug. 4, 2010, according to online records.

He also was indicted April 17, 2012, in Prince Edward County on a different solicitation to commit murder charge for a plot uncovered during May-July 2009.

That charge was never prosecuted because of a missing witness in the case.

Deborah Smith also previously entered an Alford plea in Nottoway County Circuit Court to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice without force for her involvement in a plot to kill her sister.