By Joe Beck -- firstname.lastname@example.org
A Winchester woman convicted of murdering her husband and a friend by poisoning them was sentenced Thursday in Frederick County Circuit Court to a total of 15 years in prison.
Retired Judge Ann Simpson imposed a full prison sentence of 60 years on Rebecca Mae Jolley, 46, of 1308 Baker Lane, Winchester but suspended all but five years on each of the two felony murder counts. Simpson also sentenced Jolley to a total of five years for two counts of distribution of fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller she gave to both victims. As with the felony murder counts, the five-year sentence came after Simpson suspended much of the full 20-year sentence on the two drug counts.
Jolley pleaded guilty earlier this year to the felony murder and drug counts. The victims included her husband, George L. Jolley, 48, also of 1308 Baker Lane, and a friend, Joseph W. Smith, 48, of 1272 Carpers Pike, Gore. George Jolley died Oct. 2, 2010 after taking the fentanyl, and Smith died 10 days later also from a reaction to fentanyl.
Rebecca Jolley's plea agreement with the prosecution prevented Simpson from imposing an active sentence of more than 15 years. The defendant could have received a maximum of 80 years on the two murder counts, according to state law.
The agreement also allowed Jolley to enter an "Alford plea" to the felony murder and drug charges. An Alford plea allows a defendant to insist they are innocent while admitting the evidence is strong enough for a judge or jury to find her guilty.
Commonwealth's Attorney Glenn Williamson said at the plea hearing in April that law enforcement had assembled evidence showing George Jolley was found dead in a recliner at his home on Oct. 2.
Toxicology reports on George Jolley and Smith showed both died from lethal doses of fentanyl, Williamson said. Smith had 100 times above the limit of fentanyl considered lethal in his system, and George Jolley registered double the same limit, according to the toxicology reports on both men. Fentanyl is classified as a painkiller with similarities to morphine but more powerful.
Williamson said the prosecution would show that Rebecca Jolley could obtain fentanyl through her mother, who had a prescription for the drug. Williamson said investigators discovered fentanyl patches missing from a box in the Jolley residence.
Williamson said investigators learned through Smith's sister that she and her brother went to Rebecca Jolley's house on Oct. 12. The sister remained in their vehicle while her brother entered the home and returned after 15 minutes, Williamson said. After they returned to Smith's sister home, Joseph Smith complained of sickness and went to lie down in a room, where he eventually died, Williamson said.
Williamson said he had tape-recorded evidence showing that Rebecca Jolley admitted to a boyfriend jailed at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center that she was involved in both deaths. The prosecution identified Joseph Smith as a former boyfriend of Jolley's.