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Man sentenced in father's murder

February 07, 2011|By TRISH RUDDER | trishr@herald-mail.com
  • Stephen J. Tamburo III
Stephen J. Tamburo III

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. — A Berkeley Springs man who entered an Alford plea to a charge of first-degree murder in the December 2008 death of his father was sentenced Monday to life in prison with mercy.

Stephen J. Tamburo III was sentenced in Morgan County Circuit Court by 23rd Circuit Judge Gina M. Groh.

A conviction of first-degree murder with mercy carries a 40-year sentence with eligibility for parole after 15 years, Morgan County prosecutor Debra MH McLaughlin said.

Tamburo, 40, entered a guilty plea in the death of Stephen J. Tamburo Jr. under Alford circumstances a few days before his trial was to begin Dec. 7, 2010.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges the prosecution has sufficient evidence to gain a conviction.

As part of the plea agreement, charges of forgery and uttering, concealment of a dead human body and prescription drug fraud were dismissed, McLaughlin said.

“Dec. 7, 2008, was my worst nightmare. I shot and killed my father. It was the worst day of my life,” Tamburo said Monday in his statement to the court.

Tamburo said he and his father argued about money Dec. 5, 2008, and Tamburo moved out and began staying with Donnie Younker, a friend who lived across the street on Shanghai Drive.

Tamburo said his father shot a gun off for the next two days, and when Tamburo thought his father was not home, he returned to the home to get some of his belongings. Tamburo said he carried a gun with him.

Tamburo said that when he entered the home, his father had a gun and held it very close to him.

“I just fired the gun,” Tamburo said.

Tamburo said his father was an alcoholic and was abusive to him, but Tamburo admitted that he also drank alcohol and was “abusing prescription drugs.”

Tamburo said two lives are ruined, but “no matter what, no one has the right to take the life of another.”  

The Tamburo family issued a written statement that was read in court by Danielle Hofe of the Morgan County Probation Office.

“Our brother and uncle was a decent man … he tried to be the best father,” Hofe read. Tamburo was “telling tales and lying” about his father, she read.

The family was hurt by the fact that Tamburo took his father’s life and even more hurt that he buried the body, which was not found until months later.

“You have never taken responsibility for your actions. You are a very selfish and despicable human being,” Hofe read.

Stephen J. Tamburo Jr., 62, went missing in December 2008. His body was found in April 2009 in the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management area near the Morgan County-Berkeley County line, authorities have said.

Tamburo Jr.’s body was identified through DNA testing in July 2009 by West Virginia Chief Medical Examiner James Kaplan.

The cause of death was four gunshot wounds to his body, Kaplan wrote in his autopsy report. Three complete bullets and additional fragmented bullet material were found during the autopsy, Kaplan wrote.

Homicide charges were filed against Stephen J. Tamburo III in Morgan County Magistrate Court on July 27, 2009, and he was found in September 2009 in Miami by U.S. Marshals.

He has been held since in Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg.

Groh said Monday that Tamburo’s sentence will include his time served, which began Sept. 9, 2009.

“It was hard to sit there and hear his lies,” said Rose Marie Martin of Westminster, Md., a sister of the deceased.

“He continues to blame everyone else,” she said after the hearing.

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