Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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May 23, 2013

Murder and kidnapping suspect pleads guilty to first-degree murder with mercy

PRINCETON — A Mercer County man has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with mercy, and a kidnapping charge in connection with the murder of his wife and abduction of his daughter.

Tracy Lee Atwell, 39, of Spanishburg, was arrested in April 2012 after the murder of his wife, 33-year-old Christine Atwell, and the abduction of his 8-year-old daughter, Porsche. The child was found safe after an extensive search by the West Virginia State Police, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement agencies.

Atwell appeared this afternoon for a plea hearing before Mercer County Circuit Court Judge Derek Swope and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with mercy, and abduction of a child by a family member. Under first-degree murder with mercy, Atwell could be eligible for parole in 15 years. But there is no guarantee that parole will be granted. He also faces a term of one to five years on the abduction charge.

Swope scheduled a hearing date for June 10. At that time Swope will determine whether to accept the plea, and if he accept the plea, whether the terms would run consecutively or concurrently.


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