POMEROY — A Pomeroy woman who was facing charges of aggravated murder and attempted murder for a shooting incident which occurred during a scheduled custody exchange has pleaded guilty to both charges.
Tammy Neace, 45, of Pomeroy, appeared in Meigs County Common Pleas Court before Judge Linda Warner on Monday for a scheduled plea hearing in the two cases against her. Neace faces a possibility of life in prison when sentenced next week.
In court on Monday, Prosecutor James K. Stanley told the court the facts of the case as the state would intend to prove at trial should the case move forward. Stanley said that when Kelli Markins arrived with her son to pick up his young child for a scheduled visitation Neace approached the passenger side of the vehicle, knocking on the window. Neace’s vehicle was parked across the road in a wooded area, Stanley contended to hide her presence and make for an easy escape following the crime.
Neace reportedly fired multiple shots at the vehicle, with at least three striking Kelli Markins, and one which went through the trunk of the car and became stuck. The bullet was reportedly traveling in the direction of the driver, leading to the attempted murder charge.
In her own statement Monday, Neace stated that she had not parked in the area to conceal the vehicle.
When asked by Judge Warner why she was in court on Monday, Neace said, “I murdered a lady.”
Neace asked to make a statement to the court, against the advice of her attorney, addressing the crimes she committed and the reasoning.
“I have never denied I was guilty,” said Neace, who stated that she did not enter the previous not guilty pleas. Her attorney, public defender Gregory Meyers explained in court that it is common procedure for the attorney to enter the not guilty plea at the beginning of a case, until evidence can be reviewed.
Neace said, the night of the crime, she had been walking to a neighbor’s house because she did not want to be at the residence when the child was picked up for the scheduled visitation because “she did not want to hear him cry.” As she was walking she said she heard “fireworks and laughing” which scared her. She said that she had been a victim of domestic violence. She then alleged her daughter was a victim of domestic violence perpetrated by the father of her daughter’s child. No charges have been filed with regard to those allegations.
“I can’t remember how many times I shot… I remember shooting,” said Neace.
“I know I deserve to go to prison and possibly even the death penalty. … I deserve to go to hell. … The only thing I have done is punish the innocent,” said Neace.
Neace added that her actions led to “the death of an innocent woman and caused my daughter and grandson pain.”
“I’ve only hurt the innocent ones for my actions,” said Neace. “I hope the Markins family can realize my daughter deserves compassion and love too.”
“I’m so sorry,” concluded Neace.
Asked by Judge Warner if she was ready to proceed with the hearing following her statement, in which she was emotional, Neace said, “You can’t hurt me any worse than I hurt my family.”
Neace was indicted for aggravated murder, with a firearm specification, in July for the shooting death of Markins on July 3 outside a residence in Pomeroy.
According to the indictment, Neace is alleged to have, with prior calculation and design, caused the death of Markins of Pomeroy by shooting Markins multiple times during a scheduled exchange of custody for visitation with a minor child.
Markins was the paternal grandmother of the minor child and Neace the maternal grandmother, according to previous reports.
In August, a second indictment was filed against Neace in connection with the incident. This time, Neace was charged with attempted murder, a first-degree felony.
According to the indictment, Neace is alleged to have attempted to murder an individual driving a motor vehicle away from the location in which Neace had just shot another individual.
The shooting occurred on Osborne Street in Pomeroy, a residence Neace shared with her daughter and grandchild. Markins was immediately transported by private vehicle to the Holzer Meigs Emergency Department at Rocksprings where she succumbed to her injuries.
Judge Warner told Neace that at sentencing, she faces a possibility of 16 1/2 years on the attempted murder charge, as well as an indefinite sentence of a minimum of 20 years to life and a maximum of life in prison without the possibility of parole on the aggravated murder charge. She also faces a mandatory three years on the gun specification on the aggravated murder charge.
Sentencing is scheduled to take place at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 6. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered to be completed prior to the sentencing hearing.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.