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Two Md. men get life sentences in slaying

April 07, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Two Maryland men will spend the rest of their lives in prison for killing a Shepherdstown, W.Va., woman whom they thought was a police informant.

Eric Michael Turner, 23, of Kettering, Md., and Pernell Jeffrey Sellers, 20, of Hagerstown, were sentenced by Judge W. Craig Broadwater to life without parole plus five years Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Jennifer LaBelle Folmar, 23, of Bunker Hill, W.Va., was killed on Oct. 24, 1996. She was stabbed 11 times and shot three times in the head as she sat in her 1982 Camaro on East German Street in Shepherdstown.

According to testimony at the December 1997 trial, she witnessed Turner selling drugs earlier that day. Witnesses said people on Ray Street were yelling "cop" and "five-oh" when Folmar drove onto the street.

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Turner rode to the corner of Ray and East German streets on the back of a bicycle and fired the first shot, according to testimony.

U.S. Assistant Attorney Robert McWilliams Jr. said Folmar may have lived for an hour or more after the shooting. Only one person tried to stop the incident and he was pushed away, McWilliams said.

On Tuesday, Folmar's mother, Ruby LaBelle, said her daughter was afraid that would happen.

"They thought she was an informant because she'd been away in rehab and they hadn't seen her around," LaBelle said.

Turner, who was described as the leader in the killing, chose not to speak at his sentencing. But Sellers read from a prepared statement, lambasting the courts for what he called injustice.

"I can't begin to justify the action the court has handed down to me," Sellers said. "I was told by the court I would receive a fair trial, but I ask to whom was it fair? My fate was entrusted in the hands of a jury who slept through my trial."

Sellers made passing reference to Folmar's family, offering his condolences.

"My heart goes out to my family as well, for they have been dealt a great injustice," Sellers said.

After a seven-day trial, Turner and Sellers were found guilty of committing a killing in furtherance of a continuing criminal enterprise; criminal conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine; interstate travel in aid of a racketeering enterprise; and carrying and using a firearm in commission of a crime of violence.

Turner also was found guilty on a separate count of operating a continuing criminal enterprise.

Stephen Herndon and Harry Smith, attorneys for Turner and Sellers, had no comment afterward.

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