South Royalton man pleads guilty to fatal 2018 shooting of estranged wife with family in room

  • Frank Sanville, of South Royalton, Vt., glances back at family members while taking a seat at the defendant's table with his attorney Robert Sussman at Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on July 27, 2022. Sanville pleaded guilty to second degree murder in the March 2018 death of his wife Wanda Sanville and aggravated assault with a weapon after pointing his rifle at brother-in-law Todd Hosmer. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — Geoff Hansen

  • Todd Hosmer, of South Royalton, Vt., talks to the media about the trauma he and his son have gone through since Frank Sanville shot and killed his wife Wanda Sanville in front of Hosmer and Hosmer’s five-year-old son in March 2018. Frank Sanville pleaded guilty to second degree murder and aggravated assault with a weapon in Windsor Superior Court in White River Junction, Vt., on July 27, 2022. Hosmer is Wanda Sanville's brother and currently lives in the home where the crime occurred. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — Geoff Hansen

  • Wanda Sanville in an undated family photograph. (Family photograph) Courtesy

  • Vermont State Police Officers walk down Happy Hollow Road in South Royalton, Vt., on March 4, 2018. Police were looking for a suspect involved in a homicide on the road. Residents were asked to stay in their homes. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/28/2022 4:58:35 AM
Modified: 7/28/2022 4:58:33 AM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A South Royalton man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to shooting and killing his estranged wife at her home in front of family members in 2018. It remains to be seen how much time Frank Sanville, 75, will spend in prison for the crime. Sentencing will come at a later date.

Sanville was out of jail on furlough after a domestic assault conviction when he shot and killed his wife, Wanda Sanville, in front of her brother and her 5-year-old nephew at her home on Happy Hollow Road in South Royalton. Police found Sanville hiding in a nearby barn a few hours later and charged him with first-degree murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Under the plea deal, Sanville’s charges were reduced to second-degree murder and aggravated assault with a weapon, which carry a prison sentence of 24 years to life.

The final sentence will be set at a future hearing after the Department of Corrections issues a risk-assessment report on Sanville, who has multiple prior convictions.

During Wendesday’s change of plea hearing, Sanville’s 24-years-to-life sentence was suspended, leaving Wanda Sanville’s family members in attendance confused and concerned that Frank Sanville could be released soon and back on the street.

But Windsor County State’s Attorney Ward Goodenough, while declining to say how long a prison term the state will be seeking for Sanville, sought to dispel that notion.

“Absolutely not; he is not being released,” Goodenough told the Valley News when asked about the fears of the victim’s family, noting the state has the right to press for the minimum 24-year sentence.

But the reduced charges and plea deal nonetheless rankled Todd Hosmer, brother of Wanda Sanville, who was escorted out of the courtroom after audibly voicing an expletive when Judge Heather Gray spoke the words “second-degree murder.”

“First degree,” said a distraught Todd Hosmer, before referring to the defendant as a “piece of s---.”

Hosmer witnessed the shooting and shoved the .22-caliber rifle away when Frank Sanville pointed it in his direction.

“Out!” the court clerk ordered as a security guard moved to escort Hosmer, who was sitting with other family members and a victim’s advocate in the visitor benches at the back of the courtroom.

“Fine,” Hosmer acknowledged as he was being led out.

During the plea hearing on Wednesday, Goodenough said Sanville’s sentencing hearing is expected to be “contested,” meaning that the prosecution and defense will each argue before the judge as to what they believe the appropriate sentence should be.

Sanville wore thin, shoulder-length gray hair, shackles at his hands and feet and a dark gray T-shirt with the words “work crew” printed on the back. Several times he required the assistance of his attorney in replacing the earplug on an audio amplification device that repeatedly fell out of his ear.

He has been incarcerated in pre-trial detention at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt., since his March 4, 2018, arrest and returned there after Wednesday’s hearing.

Goodenough said a pre-sentencing investigation report, or PSI, expected to take two months to prepare, will be completed by the Department of Corrections and submitted in preparation for the sentencing hearing. He said he expected the court will set aside a full day for the sentencing hearing, which is often when victims or their loved ones are allowed to address the court.

Outside the courthouse following Sanville’s change of plea hearing, Hosmer said he was dismayed by the downgraded charge to which Sanville pleaded guilty.

“It should have been first-degree murder,” Hosmer said. “He killed my sister in cold blood. He could have killed me and my son. If I didn’t stop him, I would have been a dead man.”

Then, Hosmer saw Sanville’s defense attorney, Robert Sussman, exit the courthouse. “Let the m-----f----- rot,” Hosmer yelled.

Hosmer said he and his son are still suffering trauma from the shooting more than four years ago.

“He’s 9 years old now, and it’s really starting to hit him,” Hosmer said of his son.

He said his sister and his son were playing a video game together on the couch when Sanville, who had been furloughed from a two- to 12-month sentence on a domestic assault conviction only three months earlier, quietly entered the house and shot his wife in the back of the head.

Sanville had been threatening Wanda Sanville in the weeks preceding the shooting, which he believes may have been motivated out of “jealousy” because Frank Sanville had learned that his wife was in communication with her ex-husband, Hosmer said outside the courthouse.

Hosmer said he had moved into his sister’s house on Happy Hollow Road — where he still lives — to protect her from her estranged husband’s threats.

He said he feels he let his sister down.

“I failed,” Hosmer said.

Contact John Lippman at

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