Plea agreement tentatively reached with woman charged in homicide of Va. man

July 30, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • Ashley Nicole Carpegna
Ashley Nicole Carpegna

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A woman who was charged as an accessory in the March 2011 shooting death of a man might be released on home confinement after serving about 15 months in jail.

Ashley Nicole Carpegna, 28, agreed earlier this year to plead guilty to accessory after the fact to murder in the death of Geronimo Garcia-Cruz, 26, of Winchester, Va.

Jonathan Frederick Bennett, 41, of Charlottesville, Va., is charged in Garcia-Cruz’s death.

Bennett was indicted October 2011 on single counts of murder, felony murder, conspiracy, malicious assault, assault during the commission of a felony and three counts of first-degree attempted robbery.

Carpegna’s scheduled plea hearing Monday was reset for Jan. 22 by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes.

Carpegna faces a five-year prison sentence as part of the plea agreement to which she agreed, but she also must testify against Bennett and fully cooperate with the state in prosecuting him as part of the deal.

While Wilkes did not allow Carpegna’s plea hearing to proceed as scheduled, the judge agreed to reduce her bond from $40,000 to $10,000. If bond is posted, she must be placed on supervised home confinement and wear a tracking bracelet as part of her release conditions.

Police said the body of Garcia-Cruz, 26, was found March 6, 2011, in a stairwell of Suncrest Apartments in Martinsburg.

Garcia-Cruz was allegedly killed in Carpegna’s second-floor apartment. She was an exotic dancer that Garcia-Cruz met several hours earlier at the club where she worked, police have alleged.
Carpegna took Garcia-Cruz and his companions to her apartment after negotiating “an illicit informal business agreement,” police have said.

Defense attorney Kevin D. Mills told the court Monday that Carpegna was deposed on the case and has been fully cooperative, adding that the case was “ripe” for sentencing, particularly given the amount of jail time his client had served.

Citing the state’s interest in guaranteeing Carpegna’s continued cooperation and testimony at trial, Wilkes reset Carpegna’s plea hearing after Bennett’s trial, which is set for Jan. 8.

The trial was set to begin earlier this month, but was rescheduled last week after Bennett’s attorney, B. Craig Manford, argued that the case received “adverse” media coverage. 

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