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Martinsburg woman sentenced to probation for accessory after the fact of murder

February 04, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • 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 was placed on probation for five years at her plea and sentencing hearing Monday in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

Ashley Nicole Carpegna, 28, of Martinsburg, W.Va., wiped tears from her eyes after she pleaded guilty to one felony count of accessory after the fact of murder in the death of Geronimo Garcia-Cruz, 26, of Winchester, Va.

A five-year sentence was suspended in lieu of the probation ordered by presiding 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes.

Carpegna was on home confinement since August after she served about 15 months in jail, attorneys said Monday.

Upon entering the guilty plea, Carpegna admitted she gave investigating Berkeley County Sheriff’s deputies false information about the homicide at her apartment building south of Martinsburg. 

Carpegna also admitted she “messed with a little bit of evidence at the crime scene.”

Co-defendant Jonathan Frederick Bennett, 41, who was indicted for Garcia-Cruz’ death, was found not guilty last month of felony murder after a jury deliberated for more than nine hours.

Carpegna agreed to enter the guilty plea prior to Bennett’s trial and a condition of the deal was that she testify at the co-defendant’s trial, which she did.

Wilkes told Carpegna that she lived up to her side of “the bargain” and the state would live up to their side.

In ordering the longer probation term, Wilkes noted Carpegna could have completed the five-year sentence in little more than a year based on day-for-day credit that is given for good behavior behind bars.

Carpegna told the judge that she gave truthful testimony and completed the conditions of the plea agreement.

“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Carpegna said.

Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Quasebarth told the court that it was evident to him that Carpegna is “a much better place than when all this started” and that the state did not oppose continued home confinement.

Police said the body of Garcia-Cruz 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 had said.

In addition to dancing, Carpegna told the court Monday she had worked as a sales associate and bartender.

She told Wilkes she currently is attending classes to get her GED.

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