Bradford, Vt., Woman Sentenced In Killing; No Contest Plea In 2012 Shooting
Anne-Marie Whiteway talks with public defender Dan Sedon during her arraignment in Windsor District Court in White River Junction yesterday for allegedly shooting and killing Dale Rock at his home in Newbury.(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
Dale Rock, 43, was allegedly shot and killed by his ex-girlfriend Anne-Marie Whiteway at his home in Newbury, Vt. (Photograph courtesy Stephanie Plante)
Chelsea — A Bradford, Vt., woman pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter in the Christmas Day 2012 shooting death of her ex-boyfriend, who she was angry with because he began a relationship with her sister-in-law, though her attorney still contends she didn’t commit the crime.
Anne-Marie Whiteway, 52, at first was charged with second-degree murder in the death of 43-year-old Dale Rock at his Newbury, Vt., home. On Monday in Orange Superior Court, Whiteway pleaded no contest to lesser the charge in what prosecutors described as a crime of “passion.”
Whiteway was sentenced to serve nine to 15 years in prison with credit for time served. Whiteway was arrested on Dec. 26, 2012, and has been held without bail since then. A trial had been scheduled for later this month.
“This was more or less a measured negotiation to come up with something that the state thought was appropriate and that the defendant thought she could plead to,” said State’s Attorney Will Porter, adding, “I’m not saying it’s a middle ground because it’s not. It’s a significant jail sentence.”
Authorities contend that Whiteway shot Rock in the head after she learned her sister-in-law Stephanie Plante, who was estranged from Whiteway’s brother, had moved in with Rock, according to a police affidavit.
A summary of facts in support of the plea agreement — signed by Whiteway, her attorneys and the prosecutor — gives the following account.
Whiteway and Rock had been in “tumultuous” relationship for about eight years and had recently broken up. According to the plea agreement, Whiteway lost her home, job and possessions over the course of the relationship, which was characterized as abusive, according to the plea agreement.
Plante, who is married to Whiteway’s brother Michael Plante Sr., recently had moved in with Rock at his Doe Lane residence, according to the plea agreement. The court documents go on to say that Stephanie Plante and Whiteway did not “enjoy a close or friendly relationship. Several witnesses testified that they hated each other for years.”
When Whiteway discovered that Rock and Plante were living together, she became “extremely angry.”
Whiteway called Rock more than 16 times in the four days before the shooting, according to the state’s plea agreement. On Dec. 22, 2012, Whiteway left a voicemail on Rock’s cell phone in which she called her sister-in-law derogatory names and warned Rock that he was going to die.
At 9:30 p.m. on Christmas, also Whiteway’s birthday, she called Rock and asked if she could come over to see him and collect her belongings.
When Whiteway arrived, she saw Stephanie Plante was on Rock’s bed and thought her to be naked.
Whiteway then accosted Plante and began assaulting her, according to the plea agreement. Rock separated the two and forced Whiteway out of the house, but Whiteway continued to bang on the door.
It was then that Whiteway managed to open the door and pull out a handgun and shoot Rock at close range, according to plea agreement documents.
Whiteway shot at Rock three times, according to the plea deal, and when Rock fell to the floor, Whiteway yelled at Plante that she was the reason he died.
An autopsy showed that Rock was killed by a single small caliber bullet to his head that caused fatal brain injuries, according to the plea agreement.
Police never found the weapon, Orange County State’s Attorney William Porter said.
A no contest plea means that a defendant acknowledges that the state’s evidence is sufficient to secure a conviction. Whiteway still asserts that she did not kill Rock, her attorney, Robert Sussman, said after the hearing.
When initially interviewed after the shooting, Whiteway told police that she did not shoot Rock and she thought her brother, Mike Plante, had shot Rock.
In an interview after her arrest, Whiteway told police that as she was heading to her car after visiting Rock’s house that day she heard “pop, pop, pop” and mentioned that she had brought her brother with her to Rock’s house, according to the police affidavit.
Sussman said that if the case had gone to trial, the defense would have tried to establish that fact.
“We’re still very confident that the evidence could establish that she was not the shooter in the case,” Sussman said.
However, Sussman said that the defense was concerned that the jury could still reach the conclusion, based on the available facts, that Whiteway was an accomplice.
Sussman said that the defense does not think that Whiteway was an accomplice, but she decided it was “safer” for her to take a no contest plea.
An attempt yesterday to reach Michael Plante, who police said had an alibi for the time of the shooting, were unsuccessful.
He has never been charged in the case.
Whiteway graduated from Oxbow High School and has lived in Vermont most of her adult life, according to court documents. She has four adult children.
Prosecutor Will Porter, the county attorney, said that almost all the witnesses in the case were part of the defendant’s and victim’s extended family. And as is usual in many cases, Porter said not all the witnesses remembered everything exactly as they told police, meaning there were some contradictions during the discovery process.
The state’s only eyewitness was Stephanie Plante, who said she saw Whiteway shoot Rock, Porter said. There was another man in the house at the time, but he did not directly see Whiteway shoot Rock.
Noella Rock, Dale Rock’s mother, was supportive of the agreement, Porter said, and he met with her frequently throughout the process. She initially expressed to prosecutors that she didn’t think Whiteway should do a lot of time in prison, but said she has “come around” in the last few months.
Noella Rock, who sat in the gallery Monday along with Whiteway’s parents, could not be reached for comment.
Sarah Brubeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3223.