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Woman pleads in 2000 Pa. slaying

August 27, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

The second woman charged in the 2000 slaying of a veterans post commander has pleaded no contest to conspiracy to third-degree murder.

Sally A. Sellers, of St. Thomas, Pa., was scheduled to stand trial next month on charges of criminal homicide, criminal conspiracy to commit homicide, criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery and two counts of criminal attempt homicide.

She will be sentenced on Sept. 25 by Judge Carol Van Horn, said assistant Franklin County District Attorney T.R. Williams.

As part of the plea agreement, Sellers will serve seven to 25 years in prison and will not be tried on the other charges, he said.

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Williams said he was satisfied with the plea.

"It was a circumstantial case. We've got who we believe to be the actual shooter serving a life sentence," he said. "It's nice to get the case resolved."

Sellers' attorney, Mike Toms, was in court all day and could not be reached for comment.

The agreement was reached during a pretrial conference Thursday.

Sellers, 32, of 2375 Appleway, St. Thomas, was not charged until more than a year after the June 11, 2000, shootings at the Vietnam Veteran's Club Post in Chambersburg.

Police have said that Sellers and codefendant 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 had not sought the death penalty in Sellers' case.

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 it closed and buy a mobile home together, according to court records.

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

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.

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