Thursday, September 13, 2012
Carrollton woman sentenced to 50 years for hiring a hitman for her ex
Said the man's daughter after his death: "a part of me is missing and I will never get it back."
MCKINNEY A Carrollton woman accused of hiring a hitman to kill her ex-husband has been sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit capital murder.
Vera Elizabeth Guthrie-Nail, 47, admitted to arranging the murder of her ex-husband, Craig Nail, on December 26, 2007 at his Frisco home on Pebblebrook Drive. By pleading guilty to the lesser conspiracy charge, Guthrie-Nail avoids the possibility of a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole.
The guilty plea was entered on the trial's third day, shortly after Mark Lyle Bell, the admitted triggerman, took the stand. Bell pleaded guilty to capital murder last year and told police how Guthrie-Nail hired him to kill Craig Nail, with whom Guthrie-Nail was in a bitter custody battle with over the couple's then 6-year-old daughter.
Bell is currently serving a life sentence in prison, while another co-conspirator, Thomas Edward Grace, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and is awaiting sentencing.
Craig Nail died of multiple gunshot wounds at his home in 2007. His girlfriend, Therisa Johnson, was also shot but managed to escape and alert police from a neighbor's house.
"If she was there I was going to take her out too," Bell told detectives in an interview with Frisco Police Department detectives last year.
Lead prosecutor Bill Dobiyanski said even though Guthrie-Nail was not convicted of capital murder, he felt justice was served. He also noted that Guthrie-Nail had stood trial on these same charges twice before, with both trials ending in mistrials.
"We were confident that the evidence would bring this defendant to justice," he said. "I think we felt it was a just sentence to have her plead guilty and waive her right to appeal. The 50-year sentence brings not only justice, but closure to the matter."
Dobiyanski said he consulted with the victim's family prior to offering the plea agreement, and said he felt they supported the decision.
"Nothing is ever going to bring Craig back or bring a sufficient amount of punishment to these people who are responsible, but I think the 50-year-sentence brings them some closure and some piece of mind. She is going to spend a long, long time in prison."
After Guthrie-Nail was sentenced, Johnson, as well as several members of Craig Nail's family, read statements to the defendant. The statements brought tears to several people in the court room, although Guthrie-Nail showed no visible reaction.
Johnson said she has undergone multiple medical procedures, missed many days of work and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and survivor's guilt in the five years since the shooting.
"I have also missed out on the rest of my life with a beautiful man who I happened to meet by accident in a time when I was very low and discovered I could be a happy girl again," Johnson said to Guthrie-Nail. "...We truly loved each other and it was all by accident; we didn't plan anything. ... I don't know how a human being could do something so mean, so mean spirited."
A letter from Craig Nail's oldest daughter, who was 16 years old at the time of the murder, was also read. In the letter, she said she dropped out of high school after moving to the Pacific Northwest, attempted suicide, and stopped playing her trumpet, one of her favorite hobbies while a high school student in Frisco.
"He didn't deserve this at all," she wrote. "I started to lose faith in people altogether, even the people I once loved and I knew cared about me. ... The day I got the news about what happened to my dad my whole life turned upside down. ... My dad was everything to me, not just as a father, but a friend as well. ... Five years later I have finally gotten better, but I will never become my self again; a part of me is missing and I will never get it back."
The statements concluded with Craig Nail's mother, Elaine Sweetman, addressing the defendant.
"My sense of loss is so profound," Sweetman said. "I struggle on a daily basis ... My belief of goodness existing in this world is totally shattered. I know there is pure evil in this world and I am looking at it in you."
Pegasus News Content partner - Star Local News
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