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Wife gets 12-24 for killing spouse

Josephine Werkheiser had pleaded guilty but mentally ill to 3rd-degree murder in 2007 shooting.

WILKES-BARRE – A Ross Township woman charged in the 2007 shooting death of her husband was sentenced Monday to 12 to 24 years in state prison.

“I loved him and I’m sorry,” Josephine Werkheiser told her husband’s family. “I didn’t mean to hurt him.”

Werkheiser, 56, of Creekside Lane, had been charged with the shooting death of her husband of 15 years sometime between July 23 and July 29, 2007. Investigators said Werkheiser shot her husband, Charles Werkheiser, 53, once in the head while he was sleeping because she suspected he was having an affair.

Police said Werkheiser also shot herself in the head with a .22-caliber handgun while in the home.

In July, Werkheiser pleaded guilty but mentally ill to a third-degree murder charge, leading to her sentencing Monday by county Judge William Amesbury.

Werkheiser received more than three years credit for time served.

Amesbury said he took Charles Werkheiser’s death, as well as his wife’s mental health status, into consideration in handing down his sentence, and that a balance in sentencing was needed to give the Werkheiser family closure and to help rehabilitate and address Josephine Werkheiser’s mental health needs.

“I did think about this a long, long time,” Amesbury said.

Assistant District Attorney Molly Hanlon Mirabito, who prosecuted the case with fellow ADA Michelle Hardik, said she had asked for the maximum allowable sentence of 20 to 40 years, but that she accepts the judge’s sentencing.

Charles Werkheiser’s only child, Margy Werkheiser, said she felt Josephine Werkheiser should have received the maximum sentence for taking her father’s life.

“I’m not happy; I wanted more,” Margy Werkheiser said, adding it’s hard for her and her 10-year-old son to accept their father and grandfather is gone.

Josephine Werkheiser’s attorneys, William Ruzzo and Cheryl Sobeski-Reedy, said they believed their client’s mental health status has improved thanks to medication and therapy.

The extent of Werkheiser’s condition has not been made public.

“With the proper treatment, she will be deterred from future crimes,” Ruzzo said, asking the judge for the lowest allowable sentence.

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