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Juntilla sentenced to life without parole in 2007 rape, slaying in W.Va.

October 28, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A man found guilty in the 2007 Memorial Day weekend rape and slaying of 40-year-old Tina Marie Starcher received the maximum prison sentence possible Monday from a circuit court judge who described Starcher's murder as "absolutely infamous for the cold-blooded nature of it."

Anthony Charles Juntilla, 39, of Berkeley County, was sentenced by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge David H. Sanders to life in prison with no opportunity for parole for the murder charge and another 16 to 40 years for other convictions.

A jury found Juntilla guilty earlier this year of first-degree sexual assault and conspiracy to commit sexual assault in addition to first-degree murder.

"This case has been a shocking case from the beginning," said Sanders, who presided over Juntilla's jury trial last month in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

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Starcher was beaten and sexually assaulted before her throat was slit at 86 Tecumseh Trail in The Woods subdivision west of Hedgesville. Her body was put into a blue plastic tote and taken by car the morning of May 27 to a power line right of way along Dam #4 Road near the northeastern Berkeley County community of Scrabble, W.Va., and dumped.

Her body laid there until June 20, when the West Virginia State Police found deteriorated remains that later were confirmed by a fingerprint to be Starcher's.

Juntilla and Fred D. Douty II of Martinsburg were arrested in Starcher's death after Juntilla's ex-girlfriend told police while she was in a drug rehabilitation program what Juntilla said happened.

Sanders sentenced Douty, 30, to life in prison with the chance of parole after 15 years after he entered a guilty plea to felony murder and testified for the state in Juntilla's trial. Douty said on the witness stand that he feared for his own life after he saw Juntilla slit Starcher's throat after they both sexually assaulted her.

Before Juntilla was sentenced, Berkeley County Victim's Advocate Heather Deeds read three letters written by Starcher's mother, Shirley Breeden, and two sisters.

"It makes me sick what you did to my sister," Brenda Breeden said. "You broke God's 10th commandment: 'Thou shall not kill.'"

Seated with Starcher's family, Juntilla's daughter sobbed as the victim's stepmother told Juntilla in the hearing Monday that she didn't think God could ever forgive "a crime as heinous as what you did."

When afforded the opportunity to speak, Juntilla said he was sorry for what happened and that he brought it all on himself.

Juntilla's attorney, B. Craig Manford, said his client's criminal history was not long and argued that the judge should allow any additional prison time be served at the same time as the life sentence that came with the jury's verdict.

Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Jean Games-Neely, who asked Sanders to order the sentences be served consecutively, said Starcher's death was one of the more brutal murder cases she has prosecuted and told Sanders that "a message" needed to be sent that this type of crime will not be tolerated in Berkeley County.

"He did totally treat (Starcher) like garbage and he meant it," Games-Neely said of Juntilla's actions.

She also remained unconvinced that Juntilla was remorseful.

"I know he said he was sorry today, but there was no emotion in it," Games-Neely said. "We're happy with the (judge's sentence). I know the family is."

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