Siblings Sentenced in Clarke County for Sister’s Murder

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BERRYVILLE, Va. – A brother and sister were both given the maximum sentence after pleading guilty to roles in the death of their sister Gail Smith, a former Berryville councilwoman.

After Timothy Smith was sentenced Friday in Clarke County Circuit Court, Deborah Smith was sentenced for her crimes.

Timothy Smith was sentenced to a total of 23 years, after entering three guilty pleas last month for hiring a hitman to murder Gail in 2009. Smith received 20 years for first-degree murder and 10 years for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Those will run concurrently. The judge gave him three years for use of a firearm to commit murder, which will be served consecutively.

“It’s what we hoped for, what we had expected, and what we thought was justice for the community,” said Suni Mackall, Commonwealth’s Attorney.

The defense called four witnesses to testify. The first two were correctional officers who worked in the same unit Timothy was held in at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center. They spoke to his good behavior in jail. 

Deborah Smith also took the stand, saying her brother was never the same after being shot in the neck, after someone tried to rob him. She said this happened when he was 22 years old, and that he was paralyzed for more than a year. 

The final witness for the defense was a cousin, on the Smiths’ mother’s side, who said Deborah sent her “abusive letters” from jail, but that she never feared Timothy, who she said speaks to her regularly from jail.

“I think that the witnesses for the defense were little if any help, really,” said Mackall.

Deborah was then sentenced for her role, after Timothy’s sentencing. She will serve seven years for perjury and 12 months for obstruction of justice without force, to be served consecutively. 

The defense was under a gag order by the judge, so neither could not speak on camera.

Gail was found dead in her home from a gunshot wound to the head on July 30, 2009. The hitman, Tony Sharpe, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit murder, shooting or stabbing in commission of a felony, and murder in the first-degree last year. He is set to be sentenced April 2.

The murder occurred after a long family dispute boiled over between Gail, Timothy and Deborah. According to investigators, they were fighting for guardianship of their sick father who had a $750,000 estate. 

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