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W.Va. man gets life in woman's shooting

November 09, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Timothy Charles Odell, the man convicted in September in the 2005 murder-for-hire shooting death of Inwood, W.Va., resident Debbie K. Bivens, was sentenced Wednesday to spend the rest of his life in prison.

He will have the opportunity for parole.

"I don't know that there is any more heinous crime out there," Judge Christopher C. Wilkes said before imposing the sentence.

Jurors found Odell guilty of first-degree murder, but decided he could be eligible for parole after serving 15 years of a life sentence. Odell must serve at least one more year, if not up to four more, for being found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, according to state law.

The sentence was made effective Aug. 25, 2005, when Odell was arraigned on the conspiracy charge.

Wilkes described the circumstances of Bivens' death as "cold and callous," but stopped short of questioning the jury's decision to give Odell an opportunity for parole or "mercy."

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The jury deliberated for nearly 10 hours and asked Wilkes several questions before deciding the case after a three-day trial.

Odell repeatedly denied shooting Bivens in his statement to police the day after Bivens was found dead Aug. 24, 2005. In the interview with police, Odell told investigating Berkeley County Sheriff's Department deputies that he was to be paid $5,000 by Benjamin F. Brookman of Salisbury, Md., to drive a shooter to the residence.

Odell admitted he was aware of the murder-for-hire plan and that a firearm was going to be involved, but he repeatedly denied ever having the murder weapon, a .40-caliber handgun. The weapon was not found.

Brookman committed suicide soon after learning Bivens had been killed, police said.

Before imposing the sentence, Wilkes denied four motions filed by defense attorney Craig Manford, who is expected to file an appeal on Odell's behalf.

Reading from prepared remarks addressed to Wilkes, Bivens' son, Glen Bivens, noted that he believed God would ultimately make the "final judgment" in his case.

"Mr. Odell, in my mind, no one can give you mercy ...," Bivens said.

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