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Slain councilwoman's sister pleads

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Deborah L. Smith avoids lengthy prison sentence in Gail Smith's June 2008 death

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

The sister of slain Berryville Councilwoman Gail Smith, accused of plotting to have her killed a year before her death, avoided a lengthy prison term by entering a plea deal.

Deborah L. Smith, of Burkeville, appeared Wednesday in Nottoway County Circuit Court on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of soliciting the murder of her sister.

Authorities accused the defendant and her brother, as well as two other men, of plotting in July 2008 to have Gail Smith killed.

Berryville police found Gail Smith in her Pickett Court home July 30, 2009, dead from a gunshot wound. No one has been charged with the councilwoman's slaying.

The judge in Nottoway accepted the agreement reached between her attorney and the commonwealth, which called for Deborah Smith to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice without force, reduced from the class 1 felony conspiracy count.

The judge sentenced Deborah Smith to 12 months in jail, and suspended six months of the term, which he ordered to run consecutively to any others, according to online court records.

In exchange for her guilty plea, the court dismissed Deborah Smith's remaining two charges.

Deborah Smith received a 12-month jail term, with 11 months and eight days suspended, in Prince Edward County Circuit Court on July 30 for the misdemeanor count of obtaining her sister's vehicle under false pretenses six months after the slaying.

The brother, Timothy R. Smith Jr., of Burkeville, is serving two years of a 10-year prison term for criminal solicitation for murder in June 2008. The court dismissed a second solicitation charge and conspiracy count per a plea agreement reached between his attorney and the commonwealth Aug. 4.

Co-defendants Edward Visosky III and Edward R. Poley, both of Meherrin, received 12-month jail sentences, all suspended, in the court Aug. 16 and Dec. 13, respectively, for misdemeanor accessory after the fact to a felony. Authorities had charged each man with conspiracy to commit murder for hire.

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