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Trial for woman accused in vets club slaying postponed

May 07, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A new issue in the case of a St. Thomas, Pa., woman charged in the 2000 slaying of a veterans post commander has resulted in the trial being moved from next week to September.

Jury selection was slated to begin Monday in the trial of Sally A. Sellers, but defense attorney Michael Toms last Thursday requested a continuance.

"A matter came up that needed further investigation. There was not enough time" prior to trial to investigate, Toms said.

Both Toms and Assistant District Attorney T.R. Williams declined to specify what the matter is.

The new trial date is Sept. 23.

Sellers is charged with criminal homicide, criminal conspiracy to commit homicide, criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery and two counts of criminal attempt homicide.

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She was not charged until last August, following more than a year of investigation into the June 11, 2000, shootings at the Vietnam Veteran's Club Post in Chambersburg.

Police have said that Sellers and co-defendant Jonna M. Johnson were attempting to rob the club and fatally shot Robert Tucker and wounded employees Kimberly Bigler and William Groff, of Fayetteville, Pa.

Johnson was convicted of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of criminal attempt homicide in November.

Under state law, she was automatically sentenced to life in prison without parole after a jury deadlocked on whether to impose the death penalty.

Williams said he would not seek the death penalty in Sellers' case.

Sellers, 31, of 2375 Appleway, St. Thomas, pleaded innocent to the charges during her arraignment in November.

Johnson confessed to the shootings but later tried to convince police that Sellers entered the club after it closed and shot Groff and Bigler while standing behind her.

Both women were members of the post and involved in a romantic relationship. They were planning to rob the post after closing and buy a mobile home together, court records alleged.

The plan backfired when Tucker fled the building from the rear door after seeing Johnson shoot Bigler and Groff, court records said.

Williams said during Sellers' preliminary hearing in September that she was waiting behind the club and detained Tucker long enough for Johnson to leave through the front door and run to the back and shoot him.

Because the post had closed for the night, both women were locked outside and unable to retrieve Johnson's belongings or the cash, according to court records.

The gun used in the shootings, a .38-caliber Taurus Ultra-Lite Special, was registered to Sellers' husband, according to court records.

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