Archived Story

Jury gives Steinert life for first-degree murder

Published 12:18pm Thursday, March 28, 2013

by Stephen H. Cowles/Contributing Writer
playback58@gmail.com

COURTLAND—Charles Bernard Steinert got a life sentence for the first-degree murder of his estranged wife, Tammy Jo Steinert, on Wednesday in Southampton County Circuit Court. The jury took about 45 minutes to return the unanimous guilty verdict on the third day of Charles Steinert’s trial. However, deliberation for what punishment he should receive for the murder and 10 other charges took about two hours.

In a warrant, detectives said they believed that Charles Steinert, 38, went to his wife’s house with a revolver on June 12, 2010. It was reported that he first shot her uncle, Joseph Michael Wise, in the stomach. Charles Steinert then shot out the home’s sliding glass back door to get inside. He reportedly chased Tammy Jo Steinert and two girls, Jessica Austin and Rebecca Gray, into a bedroom, where he apparently shot and killed his wife; she was 37.

He barricaded himself and the girls, holding them hostage. Austin was Tammy Jo’s daughter from a previous marriage, and Gray was a visiting friend of hers. The girls were released unharmed that afternoon. Charles Steinert surrendered to police later that evening.

In addition to the life sentence, he was given a total of 83 years for the following charges: malicious wounding of Wise; using a firearm maliciously; the abduction of Austin; using a firearm to do so; the abduction of Gray; using a firearm to do so; armed statutory burglary; using a firearm to commit a burglary; the use of a firearm to commit murder; and maliciously discharging a firearm at or within an occupied building or dwelling.

After the jury was dismissed, Barrett Richardson, Steinert’s attorney, asked Judge Robert G. O’Hara to set aside the jury’s verdict of first-degree murder and reduce it to second-degree. Further, he asked that the verdict on the malicious wounding charge also be downgraded. Richardson maintained that his client did not intend to either kill his wife or shoot her uncle.

Commonwealth Attorney Eric Cooke countered that the jury had already considered the defense’s claims and rejected the ideas.

O’Hara denied Richardson’s request, but did acknowledge the defendant has a right to a pre-sentence report, which will be held Tuesday, July 23.

Following the trial, Charles Steinert’s mother, Diane Steinert, declined to comment.

Tammy Jo’s father, Joseph Russell of Scottwood, said he expected the jury members to return a guilty verdict and the sentence they gave was correct.

“The best sound I heard was the word ‘guilty’ 11 times in a row,” said Russell.

A 1990 graduate of Franklin High School, Tammy Jo participated in the band for four years and “did good there,” said Russell. She graduated from Radford University and had decided to study law.

“She had good goals in life,” he added. “She was on her way.”

He remembered that Charles Steinert repeatedly begged his daughter to marry him.

“I guess she just gave up and married him.”

“He just took it all away,” Russell said about Charles Steinert. “He wouldn’t try to solve a small problem, just let it escalate until it came to this. You couldn’t talk to him.”

Russell pinpointed an argument that took place Feb. 10, 2010, as when the couple’s relationship had seriously deteriorated. Charles Steinert also rejected his wife’s plea for them to see a marriage counselor, said Russell, adding he wishes now he had ignored his daughter’s words for him to stay out of their troubles.

“She was a wonderful daughter,” he said.

  • ohgrl

    get a life and move on. lol
    I am more concerned about how the current admin is ruining this country

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    • LWise

      The Jury just gave Charles Bernard Steinert “A” life

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  • ohgrl

    to quote an author …”there is no virtue in punishing the living — it changes nothing…”

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    • Sinoptik

      Now that you’ve quoted the author… name them. Bet you can’t. There is also no virtue in trolling yet here you are.

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    • LWise

      There is virtue in a jury giving Charles Bernard Steinert “A” life. I am sure it will prove to be an interesting life at that. Folks wish for a long life and his probably will seem very long.

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  • workingtodamill

    The one place he feared throughout the entire thing was going to jail. He told the police I am 5ft3 135 pnds, I know what they do to guys like me in prison. During the stand off it was stated that every time the negotiator said he had to come out and face what he had done he would cry like a little girl(I would like to use a little stronger word there). I say let him have to face his worst fear now

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    • ohgrl

      You know this how? Those convicted of murder are “in charge”

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      • LWise

        There will be “Lots” of murders there, he will not be in charge :)

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  • Makalani

    “The death penalty is in no way a deterrent…”
    I agree 10,000% with your cerebral – objective – non-emotional assessment. Countless murders are committed while the perps’ minds are impaired with drugs/alcohol and/or other chemical substances. Many are in an overwrought emotional state. Some are just plain nuts.

    The death penalty or prison being the furthest thing from many of their minds while “merking” someone.

    Mr. Steinert’s sentence is appropriate for his heinous crimes. He’ll probably be sent to Wallen’s Ridge or Red Onion where they send the worst of the worst! The “Club Med” fallacy does not apply to these two institutions!

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  • LWise

    LWR, That was the most severe punishment allowed in this case and the jury (thank you all) 12 of them deemed this to be their recommendation. We can live with that, a lot better than he can deal with that.

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  • Liberty With Responsibility

    I don’t believe that crap about it costing the public more to kill them to keep them alive because of the costs of appeals. I think that is propaganda. Kind of like saying that “diversity is our strength.” Don’t believe it just because people say it. I need to see the numbers before I believe it.

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    • Sinoptik

      “Don’t believe it just because people say it. I need to see the numbers before I believe it.”

      Because Faux New’s word is gold in these here parts, foxnews.com/us/2010/03/27/just-cost-death-penalty-killer-state-budgets/

      And here’s a official study: urban.org/UploadedPDF/411625_md_death_penalty.pdf

      Now that I have done the research for you, please disregard and continue with your disillusion because you simply refuse to let a fact interfere with your preference. “Note I did say I agree with the late great Robin Harris: “Gotta go, Gotta Go!”

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  • Masknup

    A short piece of rope……

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  • shocked

    Praying for Mrs. Steinert’s family! It truly saddens me to think of the pain they have endured as well as the memories the two young ladies will carry with them forever!

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  • LWise

    Many of us are regretful today. We regret that we lost a beautiful flower off our family tree. We are regretful that perhaps we could have should have done something different or more. We suffer these regrets. We hurt about these regrets. We ponder these regrets, but today we have no regrets about what has happened to the evil that infiltrated our family. We have no regrets for the justice that was served. Just plain guilty with no reasonable shadow of a doubt and the justice was dealt swiftly and exactly as charged with no concessions. 11 Felonies for this guy accused of 11 crimes and duly convicted of all. I wish I could be profoundly prophetic but I will just be me and say we miss you we Love you we will always carry you with us each and every moment of every day! I miss you and I Love you and I wish you were not gone.

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  • TaxMax

    Why do we even have capital punishment if we aren’t using that to at least try to deter senseless crimes like this. Now we are paying for this guy for the rest of his life. And I agree with HarleyGurl, he is going to be someone’s boy since he is a little guy.

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    • Sinoptik

      I would first like to say I am pro-death penalty, for no other reason than I feel good often when I read about a truly despicable one getting gone.

      That said, I have to clarify a couple of your comments; The death penalty is in no way a deterrent, I would even go as far as to say the threat of life in prison is not a deterrent because most criminals act with the mindset that they will not get caught, or act with no mindset at all.

      Second, it is a fact that, because of our judicial system and the offender’s rights to appeals, it is actually cheaper to sentence them to life than to death.

      I do agree in hoping he gets the “treatment” he deserves in prison.

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  • HarleyGurl

    To bad they couldn’t fry him but I guess that would have been too easy. Now he can be someone’s bitch for the rest of his life.

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