|Cases will be sent to grand jury|
Friday, March 22, 2013
By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer
Two women accused of hiring a hit man to kill one's ex-husband both waived their right to a preliminary hearing Thursday in Franklin County General District Court.
Angela Robin Nolen, 47, of Moneta is charged with solicitation to commit murder for allegedly meeting with an undercover state police agent and paying him $4,000 to kill her ex-husband, Paul "Jay" Strickler.
Cathy Warren Bennett, 37, of Rocky Mount is charged as an accessory in the alleged murder-for-hire scheme.
The charges against both women will now be sent to a grand jury for review.
Franklin County Commonwealth's Attorney Tim Allen said at an earlier bond hearing that Nolen met with an undercover state police agent in the parking lot at Lowe's in Rocky Mount on Feb. 19. Nolen then went to her bank to withdraw $4,000, returned to the parking lot and gave the money to the agent, he said.
Allen also said Nolen had given a statement to investigators that indicated she was involved in the murder-for-hire plot and that she had demonstrated remorse.
Nolen appeared in court Thursday in shackles and an orange jumpsuit, as she is being held without bond in the Western Virginia Regional Jail. Two judges denied her bond earlier this month, citing the seriousness of the charge and possible danger to the intended victim.
Bennett was granted $75,000 bond, but she was ordered to stay away from Sontag Elementary School and to have no contact with any school employees.
Both Nolen and Bennett were employed at Sontag Elementary School. Nolen was a kindergarten teacher and Bennett was the school nurse.
In accordance with state law, both women have been suspended, pending the outcome of their trials. If acquitted, Nolen and Bennett will be reinstated and paid for the time they were suspended.
Both women are charged with felony counts, punishable by up to 40 years in prison.
Although state police investigators have not released information as to motive in the case, court records show that Nolen was granted a protective order for family abuse on behalf of herself and the couple's adopted 7-year-old daughter against Strickler shortly before the couple divorced in December 2012.
The protective order, issued by Franklin County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in October 2012, prohibited Strickler from having any contact with Nolen and limited his contact with their daughter to three 5-minute phone calls per week, according to the document.
A judge granted the protective order after Nolen had "proven the allegation of family abuse by a preponderance of evidence," the order states.
The protective order remains in effect until October 2014.
Nolen has sole custody of their daughter, who is currently living with Nolen's parents in Rocky Mount.