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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
540-483-5113
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Agee gets 3 life sentences, plus 11 years

Friday, May 10, 2013

By KEN BRADLEY - Staff Writer

Former Franklin County deputy Jonathan Agee was sentenced Wednesday in Roanoke City Circuit Court to three life terms, plus 11 years in the murder of his ex-wife and the shooting of a Virginia State Police sergeant in Montgomery County.

On Memorial Day 2011, Agee, 34, fatally shot his ex-wife Jennifer Agee in the parking lot of a Sheetz convenience store in Roanoke. He later shot and wounded a Virginia State Police officer during a high speed car chase on I-81.

The sentencing hearing lasted a day and a half and included testimony from law enforcement officers and family members of Jennifer Agee and Jonathan Agee.

Circuit Court Judge Charlie Dorsey imposed the maximum sentences for first-degree murder, attempted capital murder of a police officer and aggravated malicious wounding.

Dorsey also sentenced Agee to an additional 11 years on eluding and firearms charges.

"There simply was no justifiable reason for a coldblooded execution of a mother in broad daylight," Dorsey told Agee.

The judge also told Agee he was aware of the magnitude of what he had done, "but you continued to ignore state troopers (during the chase)....You attempted to kill the state troopers."

The judge said his sentences exceed sentencing guidelines set by the Virginia General Assembly.

"They (guidelines) were flawed in this case," Dorsey said. The guidelines are based on value judgments, not experience, and do not fit these crimes, he added.

Prosecutors Donald Caldwell and Mary Pettitt both asked for life sentences in the case.

Investigators testified Tuesday that Agee's motive in the killing of his ex-wife was blackmail and a custody battle over the couple's youngest child.

Although divorced, Jonathan Agee and Jennifer Agee had rekindled their relationship, swapping sexually explicit digital photographs, investigators said Tuesday morning during Agee's hearing.

Jennifer Agee threatened to send the photos to Jonathan Agee's current wife if he did not give her sole custody of their youngest daughter, investigators said.

Eventually Jennifer Agee did send nude photos of Jonathan Agee to his wife, Julia Angell.

Agee's attorney, C.J. Covati, argued that Jonathan Agee was suffering from "roid rage" from the use of anabolic steroids, which can cause mood swings and violent behavior.

In a lengthy video deposition for the defense, Dr. Harrison Pope, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said his research on anabolic steroids shows the drugs can induce mood swings and violent behavior, often referred to as "roid rage."

Pope noted that "if Agee had not been taking anabolic steroids in May 2011, the murder would not have happened."

But Caldwell countered in his closing arguments that "you are what you eat. Nobody forced him to take steroids."

Even though Jennifer Agee attempted to blackmail Jonathan Agee," Caldwell said, "it's not an excuse for murder."

Pettitt also disputed a position by the defense that Agee, after the fatal shooting of his ex-wife, had wanted to kill himself.

She said Agee fled quickly from the Sheetz parking lot after he killed his ex-wife.

"He wasn't trying to die, he was trying to get away," Pettitt said. "He only stopped when he had no other choice."

 
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