Angela Nicole Berry was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter.
Berry was charged with murder in the 2015 death of William David Corteville, 53, of Laurens, but accepted a last-minute plea deal before her trial was set to begin this week.
Berry is believed by investigators to have poured an accelerant on her boyfriend, Corteville and set him on fire. He died five months after the incident at the Augusta Burn Center.
In an unusual circumstance, the plea arrangement was followed by two days of testimony to determine whether Berry was abused. Under a state statute, a person found by a preponderance of evidence to have been a victim of abuse within a household is eligible for early probation.
After hearing testimony and reading the analysis of a psychologist, Judge J. Cordell Maddox Jr. accepted the argument of Laurens County Assistant Public Defender Joel Broome that Berry was a victim of abuse.
She will be eligible for probation after serving 25 percent – 7 and a half years – of her sentence as opposed to the 85 percent she would have served under a normal plea of voluntary manslaughter.
After the hearing closed Tuesday, 8th Circuit Deputy Solicitor Dale Scott seemed dismayed by the ruling and said, in retrospect, he would rather have ventured a trial.
“There’s no way that there’s credible evidence of criminal domestic violence,” said Scott, asking the court to deny Berry a chance at early parole.
Scott also argued the psychologist’s report, which termed Berry a “slave” in the Corteville home, was without independent research into the events and accepted Berry’s claims as fact.
Josh Corteville, son of the victim, said his father took Berry in and befriended her when she had nowhere to go. During testimony, he said there was no abuse by his father, claiming instead that Berry was the violent one in the relationship.
“I never saw my father lay a hand on that girl,” Corteville said. “She threw knives, liquor bottles and pans at my dad.”
Berry, of Laurinburg, N.C., remained shackled and wore a blue prison uniform from the Johnson Detention Center during both days of testimony following her plea.
She hugged her mother before being escorted from the courtroom.
“It’ll be OK,” Berry said several times as her mother