FRONT ROYAL — A man with a history of mental illness must serve more than a decade in prison for killing his mother’s fiancee.
Judge Clifford L. Athey Jr. sentenced David Glynn Hoyle Jr. in Warren County Circuit Court on Friday to 30 years in the state penitentiary for committing second-degree murder in March 2017. Athey suspended 17 years of the sentence, leaving Hoyle 13 years to serve. Hoyle has spent more than two years incarcerated at Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail. Athey ordered Hoyle to complete 10 years of supervised probation upon release.
Authorities accuse Hoyle of shooting and killing Warren Ramsey in the home they shared with the victim’s fiancee Wanda Horton at 208 Grand Ave., Front Royal. An autopsy revealed Ramsey suffered at least 10 bullet wounds to the chest and other parts of his body.
A grand jury indicted Hoyle on first-degree murder July 5, 2017. Hoyle pleaded guilty under Alford v. North Carolina on Jan. 25, less than a month before the scheduled jury trial, underr an agreement Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Anna Hammond reached with Public Defender Timothy Coyne and co-defense council Ryan Nuzzo. A defendant who enters an Alford plea maintains his innocence but concedes the prosecutor has sufficient evidence and does not want to risk a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Hoyle pleaded guilty under the terms of the agreement to the lesser charge of second-degree murder. In exchange for the plea, the court dismissed Hoyle’s related firearms charge at the request of the prosecutor.
Second-degree murder carries a sentence of five years to 40 years in prison. The agreement left it up to the court to impose a sentence and set a cap on the active time Hoyle would serve at 17 years. Both sides could argue for a sentence within that range. Guidelines calculated for Hoyle’s sentencing recommend he serve between 12 years and nine months to 21 years and four months, with a midpoint of 17 years and 1 month.
Hammond asked Athey to sentence Hoyle to serve 17 years in prison given the nature and circumstances of the crime. Coyne argued that Hoyle should serve no more than five years given his client’s history of substance abuse problems and mental illness, the latter exacerbated in the years leading up to the shooting by a psychiatrist’s misdiagnosis and higher-than-recommended dosage of medication prescribed. Coyne said his client would be served better not incarcerated but receiving treatment in a mental health care facility.
Athey spent time going over the evidence and testimony both sides presented at the sentencing hearing before coming up with a punishment. Athey said he took into consideration the facts of the case as well as Hoyle’s history.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story should have identified Wanda Horton as victim Warren Ramsey's fiancee.