POMEROY — The Pomeroy woman who pleaded guilty last week to attempted murder and aggravated murder will spend the rest of her life behind bars after a sentencing hearing on Wednesday in Meigs County Common Pleas Court.
Tammy Neace, 45, of Pomeroy, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on the charge of aggravated murder, as well as 10 to 15 years on the attempted murder charge and three years on the gun specification.
The sentences were ordered to be served consecutive, making the total sentence life in prison, plus 13 to 18 years. (Under a new sentencing law, some sentences come with an indefinite term, meaning the minimum sentence is stated and then the person may be held for up to half of that time in addition).
Neace pleaded guilty on Oct. 28 to the shooting death of Kelli Markins and the attempted murder of Markins’ adult son Drake Markins, who is the father of Neace’s grandson.
Prosecutor James K. Stanley addressed the court, asking for the maximum sentences to run consecutively to one another in the case. Stanley stated that, at the plea hearing, Neace herself said she deserved “prison, death and to go to hell” for what she had done. He added that hell was between her and God, and the death penalty was not an option in this case, but life in prison was the maximum available.
Victim Assistance Director Theda Petrasko addressed the court regarding restitution in the case and then bringing up the mother of Kelli Markins to read her victim impact statement.
Markins’ mother addressed the court and Neace directly, speaking about the impact of Neace’s actions.
“We should never have been here because of your actions. … She was my only child,” said Markins’ mother. “Nobody deserves to be murdered by another person.”
“The most hurt is (the grandchild in the case). He will grow up without two grandmothers,” said Markins’ mother. (The Daily Sentinel is not publishing the name of the minor child involved in the case).
Markins’ mother added “She (Neace) wanted my daughter and grandson dead because she didn’t want to let the child go for a three hour visit.”
As previously reported by The Daily Sentinel, Markins and her son were at the residence on Osborne Street in Pomeroy to pick up his young child for a court ordered visit when Neace approached the passenger side of the vehicle with a gun and shot Markins. She fired additional shots, including as the vehicle was driving away, leading to the attempted murder charge.
Defense attorney Greg Meyers asked the court to consider something other than the maximum sentence, stating that the punishment cannot bring back the life lost and that not all homicides should result in the same sentence, which is why there are sentencing ranges.
Neace addressed the court, Prosecutor James K. Stanley and the family of the victim in her lengthy statement.
Neace said that she did not commit the crime out of hate, but out of fear for her grandson’s safety. She went on to make unfounded accusations against the attempted murder victim.
“I hate that I killed an innocent woman trying to protect her son as I was trying to protect my grandson,” said Neace.
Judge Linda Warner took a brief recess from the proceedings to consider the statements before announcing the sentence.
In announcing the sentence, Warner stated that while Neace had no prior serious felony offenses on her record there were prior domestic violence and other charges which had been dismissed or reduced against her.
Additionally, Warner stated that while Neace had shown some remorse and readily admitted to her actions, the remorse was tainted by her “continued rationalization” that her actions were caused by others, “blaming the father of the child and blaming the court.”
“We can’t allow people to take the law into their own hands when they don’t agree,” said Warner of Neace’s actions which occurred during what was to be a visitation exchange for a three hour visit.
“This is a heartbreaking situation. … My heart breaks for everyone,” concluded Warner.
Neace was remanded to the custody of the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office to be transported to begin her prison sentence.
In addition to the prison sentence, Neace was ordered to pay $1,350 in restitution, as well as a total of $45,000 in fines and court costs.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.