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A Virginia man who gunned down his wife in an intoxicated rage amid this spring’s pandemic lockdown was dealt a 28-year prison sentence this week.
Gerard Patrick Tompkins fatally shot his wife Michelle Tompkins in May. On Wednesday, the 58-year-old was sentenced to 28 years in prison with an additional 10 years suspended, according to a sentencing order obtained by Oxygen.com. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
“COVID times are hard,” Montgomery County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt said in a statement following the court’s ruling. “Add alcohol, domestic violence, and home confinement and they can turn deadly. I hope the quick resolution of this case brings some solace to Michelle’s family and friends.”
On May 19, Tompkins called 911 and informed emergency dispatchers he’d shot his wife, the Roanoke Times reported.
"The male subject is screaming uncontrollably," a dispatcher said aloud over a police scanner after receiving the report, according to WDBJ. "He did advise he did shoot his wife."
Police found 51-year-old Michelle Tompkins slumped over the steering wheel of her car at the couple’s Christiansburg home. The car, still running, was riddled with bullet holes and the driver’s side window had been smashed out.
Michelle Tompkins was found with nine bullet wounds, including one to the chest that killed her, according to prosecutors. Her cell phone was actively recording, according to WSLS-TV. She was wearing her slippers.
Gerard Tompkins was found inside the home laying face down next to a revolver. All seven shell casings had been spent, investigators said. Under questioning, the distraught man claimed to have carried out the shooting but appeared confused, and asked detectives whether he had been arrested for drunk driving or whether he totaled his car. His blood alcohol level was found to be .016% — twice the legal limit, according to the Roanoke Times.
Tompkins was charged with murder, according to an arrest warrant obtained by Oxygen.com.
A series of damning writings authored by Michelle Tompkins were also recovered by detectives, the Roanoke Times reported. In them, she described her husband’s abusive, violent, and often drunken behavior. Friends also said she frequently barricaded herself in the bedroom while her husband drank until he passed out. They also alleged she routinely recorded his inebriated tyrades on her phone.
The deadly shooting rocked the small and normally sleepy Virginia town of Christiansburg.
"I watch a lot of ID and murder mysteries on Netflix and stuff like that, but for it to happen not even a half mile down the road," neighbor Sophie Davis told WDBJ in May. "It's pretty scary."
Davis recalled frequently seeing Gerard Tompkins in the neighborhood.
“You know I’ve seen this guy, I waved at him, like, it’s just crazy to have happened so close,” she added.
Michelle Tompkins’ obituary described her as a “born caregiver,” “animal lover,” and an “adventurous” traveler. Originally from New Jersey, she worked at nearby Virginia Tech for almost three decades.
Gerard Tompkins, who wept as prosecutors spoke, declined to address the courtroom on Wednesday. However, he did acknowledge remorse for his actions in court filings.
“I’m powerless to undo the wrong for which I am responsible,” he wrote, according to the Roanoke Times. “But I do wish to do everything in my power to do what is right and to put an end to further festering.”
Tompkins also lamented failing his wife “in the most inconceivable and horrific way.” The couple had been married 31 years, he added.
Tompkins’ defense lawyer Dennis Nagel declined to comment on the case. When contacted by Oxygen.com on Friday, he abruptly hung up.
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