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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
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Murder-for-hire plot nets guilty plea
The former kindergarten teacher hired a ‘hit man’ to kill her ex-husband
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Angela Nolen

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer

The former kindergarten teacher charged with hiring a hit man to kill her ex-husband in February pleaded guilty Tuesday morning in Franklin County Circuit Court.

Angela Robin Nolen, 47, of Moneta pleaded guilty to one count of solicitation to commit murder for meeting with an undercover state police agent and paying him $4,000 to kill her ex-husband, Paul "Jay" Strickler.

Nolen faces a minimum of five years in prison up to a maximum of 40 years, according to Judge W.N. Alexander II.

During a summary of the evidence against Nolen, Franklin County Commonwealth's Attorney Tim Allen said a coworker at Sontag Elementary School was provided with information by the school nurse on Feb. 11 that Nolen was searching for someone to kill her ex-husband.

Nolen was a kindergarten teacher at the school before her arrest.

The school nurse, Cathy Warren Bennett, 37, of Rocky Mount is charged as an accessory in the murder-for-hire scheme.

The coworker contacted the police and was provided with a telephone number to give to Nolen, Allen said. Nolen was told to ask for "Greg."

On Feb. 18, Sgt. J.G. Blankenship with the Virginia State Police received a call from Nolen at 4:20 p.m., Allen said. They agreed to meet at 4 p.m. the next day in Lowe's parking lot in Rocky Mount.

Surveillance had been set up in the undercover agent's car and in the parking lot to record the meeting, Allen said. When Nolen arrived, she got into the front seat of Blankenship's car and said she wanted Strickler "eliminated from this earth" several times.

The two negotiated a price of $8,000 for the hit, Allen said, and Nolen went to her bank to withdraw $4,000. She returned to the parking lot at 4:38 p.m. and gave the cash to Blankenship.

The next morning, state police agents questioned Nolen, and, at first, she denied any involvement in the murder-for-hire plot, Allen said. However, she eventually confessed and demonstrated remorse, he added.

Nolen appeared in court Tuesday morning in shackles and wearing an orange jumpsuit. She is being held without bond in the Western Virginia Regional Jail.

Nolen's sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 9 at 2 p.m.

Defense attorney David Furrow told the judge he has a number of witnesses to testify and it may take as long as three hours.

Although Allen has 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.

Bennett was released on $75,000 bond. Her trial is set for July 15 at 9 a.m. in Franklin County Circuit Court.

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