Capital murder charge is questioned

Posted: September 17, 2013

The Winchester Star

Deborah L. Smith

BERRYVILLE — The sister of slain Berryville Town Council member Gail Smith appeared Monday in Clarke County Circuit Court.

Deborah L. Smith, 61, of Burkeville, was arrested in early August following indictments on capital murder and conspiracy to commit murder stemming from her sibling’s death.

She wore glasses and a blue jumpsuit Monday morning during her appearance in court with Middleburg attorney Edward B. McMahon Jr. and co-counsel.

Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. approved two motions in the case allowing the defense to hire a mitigation expert and clerical assistant.

Smith’s next appearance in the court was set for 1 p.m. Oct. 21, when McMahon said the defense plans to raise concerns about the indictments and whether or not there is an offense in which she could face the death penalty.

She also plans to waive her right to a speedy trial, according to her attorney.

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

Tony Sharpe, 26, of Farmville, recently pleaded guilty in the case to first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and shooting another person in the commission of a felony.

He was originally charged with capital murder.

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

Gail and Deborah Smith’s brother, Timothy Smith Jr., 53, of Burkeville, was previously charged at the same time as Sharpe with capital murder, conspiracy to commit murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony on March 21.

Deborah and Timothy Smith could be sentenced to death if convicted.

According to a plea agreement, Sharpe will be sentenced to 25 to 35 years in prison for his three charges. How much time he receives will be determined by a judge at a sentencing hearing after the other cases related to the murder are resolved.

The agreement also states that he will cooperate in the continuing investigation of Smith’s murder.

He is next due in court on Dec. 16.

Timothy Smith’s next appearance is set for 1 p.m. Oct. 16.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com