POMEROY — A Pomeroy woman charged in the shooting death of another woman appeared in court for the first time on Monday morning.
Tammy S. Neace, 45, of Pomeroy, appeared before Judge Linda Warner in Meigs County Common Pleas Court on the single count of Aggravated Murder, an unclassified felony, as indicted last week by a Meigs County Grand Jury. The charges also includes a gun specification.
Neace was indicted on July 9 for the the shooting death of Kelli Markins on July 3. The shooting happened during a custody exchange for a minor child. Neace is the maternal grandmother of the child and Markins was the paternal grandmother. The incident happend at the residence Neace shared with her daughter and grandchild.
Neace was accompanied by appointed counsel Gregory Meyers from the Ohio Public Defenders Office. Meyers entered a “not guilty” plea on behalf on Neace. Meyers also stated that Neace would be exercising her right to remain silent moving forward.
Regarding bond in the matter, Meyers stated that they would waive and pass on discussion regarding bond, but may make a request once he has received discovery in the case.
Judge Warner explained the possible penalties associated with the charge, which range from the indefinite term of 20 years to life in prison, up to life in prison. Additionally, the gun specification carries a three year mandatory sentence if convicted.
Neace was ordered to have no contact with surviving family members of the victim in the case.
Following the hearing, Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood spoke about the case and the ongoing investigation.
“My heart breaks for the Markins family,” said Wood. He added that it is a sad situation with a child involved for a “three hour visit.”
Wood explained that the victim had accompanied her son to the custody exchange to pick him his child for a visit when the shooting occurred. When they arrived, Wood stated that Neace allegedly approached the vehicle with a handgun and shot the victim four times.
Markins was taken to the Holzer Meigs Emergency Department where she died from her injuries.
Wood said there had been previous exchanges of custody which had not went smoothly and that the situation had been revisited in court. He added that there are several custody exchanged which occur at public locations, including the sheriff’s office, and he encouraged those with any concerns about exchanges to make a plan to meet at a public location.
As for where Neace was between the shooting and turning herself in early Friday morning, Wood said Neace did travel out of state and was in Tennessee at one time. When she returned to the sheriff’s office she did so in a vehicle with Tennessee tags.
The weapon allegedly used in the shooting and the Hyundai Accent which Neace is believed to have fled in following the shooting have not yet been located, said Wood.
Wood encouraged anyone with information regarding the case, or information on those who may have been involved in helping Neace during the time between the shooting and being taken into custody, to contact the sheriff’s office at 740-992-3371.
“If you know something that can lead to the correct penalty in this case please come forward,” said Wood.
Wood commended the work of the Holzer Emergency Department staff, as well as expressed appreciation for the agencies who have worked on the case, including Middleport Police Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Bureau of Criminal of Investigation, and law enforcement agencies in Tennessee and West Virginia.
An initial pretrial is scheduled for Aug. 5, with a final pretrial on Aug. 21, a motions hearing on Sept. 4 and a jury trial scheduled for Sept. 24.
The case remains under investigation.
Neace remains in the custody of he Meigs County Sheriff’s Office.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.