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Delay to consider plea is granted

November 18, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - A woman charged in the 2000 slaying of a veterans post commander was given a six-day continuance Friday to decide whether to withdraw a plea agreement made in August.

Sally A. Sellers, of St. Thomas, Pa., was scheduled to tell Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Carol Van Horn on Friday whether she wanted to proceed with a motion to withdraw her plea of no contest. She is charged with one count of criminal conspiracy to commit third-degree murder.

Sellers said Friday she wanted extra time so she could talk to her family before making a decision, her attorney, H. Anthony Adams, told Van Horn.

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Under a no-contest plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but offers no defense.

As part of the plea agreement, Sellers would serve seven to 25 years in state prison and would not be tried on other charges she faced. Those charges include criminal homicide, criminal conspiracy to commit homicide, criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery and two counts of criminal attempt homicide, court records show.

Prior to the plea agreement, Sellers was scheduled to go to trial in late September for her alleged role in the June 11, 2000, shootings at the Vietnam Veterans Post Club in Chambersburg. Police have said Sellers and codefendant Jonna M. Johnson were attempting to rob the club and fatally shot Robert Tucker and wounded employees Kimberly Bigger and William Groff.

Assistant District Attorney T.R. Williams did not object to delaying the matter until Thursday at 2:30 p.m.

Sellers was to have been sentenced in late September, but on Sept. 10 she fired her attorney, Mike Toms. Later that month she entered a motion to withdraw her plea.

In a signed affidavit Sellers on Aug. 22 said she was coerced by Toms and Williams "under threat and duress" into entering the plea.

Williams said Friday that Sellers entered the plea voluntarily.

Johnson was convicted of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of criminal attempt homicide in November 2001. She is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

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 were involved in a romantic relationship. They were planning to rob the post after closing and buy a mobile home together, according to court records.

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