Upshur County will seek death for woman charged in murder

Published on Tuesday, 4 February 2014 19:41 - Written by PHILLIP WILLIAMS, Special Correspondent


GILMER — Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd on Monday filed notice that he intends to seek the death penalty for Sarah Haslam, one of three people charged with capital murder in the December 2012 death of a Longview man.

Another of the three charged with killing Ronnie Joe Gammage Jr., Daniel Paul Jones, was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole last Oct. 30 after pleading guilty.

Byrd has yet to announce whether he will seek the death penalty for the third defendant, Andrew Conrad Norwine.

On Tuesday, Byrd said the trials of Ms. Haslam and Norwine are tentatively set for July 21 in Judge Lauren Parish’s 115th District Court.

No woman has received a death penalty in an Upshur County case in modern history.

Gammage, 27, was abducted, purportedly in Gregg County, before his throat was cut Dec. 5, 2012, and his body was set on fire, Byrd said. Ms. Haslam, 21, of Longview, and Norwine, 22, of Arlington, remained in Upshur County Jail Tuesday under bonds of $1 million each on the capital murder charge, and additional bonds of $300,000 for her and $350,000 for him on aggravated kidnapping charges from Gregg County.

The capital murder indictment against Ms. Haslam alleges she killed Gammage “by cutting or slicing his throat or neck with a knife or sharp force object” while kidnapping him or attempting to. Under Texas law, a person is guilty of capital murder if he or she kills someone while committing another felony, such as kidnapping or attempted kidnapping.

Capital murder in Texas is punishable by lethal injection or life imprisonment without parole.

The three suspects in Gammage’s death were arrested in December 2012 after his remains were found Dec. 19, 2012, in a pasture on Martin Road in the Diana community of Upshur County, Byrd has said.

Ms. Haslam’s court-appointed attorneys are Charles Mac Cobb and Lance Larison; Norwine’s court-appointed lawyers are Doug Parks and John W. Moore.

Jones, who was from Longview and turned 21 last month, was sentenced on a plea bargain, and waived his right to appeal during an emotionally charged court proceeding where the victim’s mother, Frankie Gammage, called him “a demon of the devil” and told him to “go straight to hell.” Ronnie Gammage was reportedly disabled, and his brother and sister also denounced Jones at the sentencing.