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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

[NJ] Impact statements before sentencing of ex-Police Sgt. Vanaman for killing Barbara

[Ex-Millville Police Sgt.] Robert Vanaman, 40, who admitted last month fatally shooting his 37-year-old wife Barbara Vanaman then attempting to cover up the shooting, faces up to 12 years and two months in prison when he is sentenced Friday... On May 11, 2006, the night of the incident, Robert and Barbara Vanaman planned to tell their two children that they were splitting up... Dylan Vanaman, an 11th grade Millville High School student, said that his father "has more love and compassion than anyone else I know. Just look at him. How can you tell me he doesn't feel bad for what happened?"...

EXCERPTS FROM RECENT NEWS:

Lawyer will seek break for Vanaman
The Daily Journal
By Tim Zatzariny Jr.
April 27, 2009
[Excerpts] When Robert Vanaman appears in Superior Court here this morning for the first part of his sentencing in the fatal shooting of his wife, his attorneys will ask for leniency for the former Millville police sergeant. They're expected to tell Superior Court Judge Martin A. Herman, who plans to impose the sentence Friday, there were elements of self-defense when Vanaman gunned down 37-year-old Barbara Elke Vanaman inside the kitchen of their Millville home on May 11, 2006... [Full article here]

Vanaman hearing starts on `victim impact' phase
The Daily Journal
By Joseph P. Smith
April 27, 2009
[Excerpts] ...The first witnesses to talk are from Barbara Vanaman's family and friends. Daniel Locke, her 18-year-old nephew, was first up. He said he missed outings with aunt. "Also, since Aunt Barb died, I hardly even get to see my cousins," Locke said, referring to her sons Dillon and Dean Vanaman... Carmen Spinnato read a letter from his wife Elke, who he said was Barbara's godmother and aunt. "I spoke to Barb that day at work and she was telling me how happy she was," Spinnato read. "She told me that her and Rob were going to try to compromise for the sake of the boys," he continued. The letter continued that Robert Vanaman had not shown much interest in his children until after the killing... [Full article here]

Judge prepares to hear from friends and family of Robert Vanaman - with audio
The News of Cumberland County
by Matt Dunn
Monday April 27, 2009, 1:21 PM
[Excerpts] Judgment day has arrived for Robert Vanaman. A sentencing hearing began this morning in Superior Court in Cumberland County for Vanaman, a 40-year-old former Millville police sergeant who pleaded guilty last month to second-degree manslaughter in connection with the May 11, 2006, shooting death of his 37-year-old wife, Barbara Vanaman. Seated on one side of the courtroom this morning were friends and family of Barbara Vanaman and, on the opposite side, people close to Robert Vanaman... Many of Barbara Vanaman's friends and family this morning asked for Herman to show "no mercy" to Vanaman, prompting the judge to ask Barbara Vanaman's sister, Cynthia Locke, whether the family was satisfied with the plea agreement. Locke said that the plea deal brought mixed emotions. Robert Vanaman faces up to 11 years and two months in prison as a result of his plea deal, although Herman can choose not to accept the plea if he wishes. "Some of us felt that we should not have accepted the plea," she said. In the end, the family felt it was the right decision even if it brought no satisfaction to them. "There's no winners here. There hasn't been a winner since the day (Robert Vanaman) killed my sister. We've all lost," Locke said... [Full article here]

Relatives of shooting victim speak before sentencing of former Millville cop Robert Vanaman
by The News of Cumberland County
Monday April 27, 2009, 11:34 AM
[Excerpts] ...About 20 friends and relatives of Barbara Vanaman have spoken so far this morning. Most urged Superior Court Judge Martin Herman to impose the maximum penalty. Vanaman faces a maximum of 11 years and two months in prison under the plea deal. Friends and family of Barbara Vanaman testified that she was a positive and caring person, and described her husband as selfish and a man who abused his role as a police officer... “It makes me sick that (Robert Vanaman) would only get 11 years in prison. He should be sentenced to 20 years to life,” said Otley Locke, brother-in-law of Barbara Vanaman and a state corrections officer [Full article here]

Tears flow on both sides at Vanaman sentencing
sjnewsco
By MATT DUNN
mdunn@sjnewsco.com
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
[Excerpts] For the first time since his initial court appearance in 2006, former Millville police Sgt. Robert Vanaman broke down in court Monday. The 40-year-old man wept openly as his 17-year-old son Dylan pleaded with Superior Court Judge Martin Herman to show leniency for his father, in a hearing to help the judge decide Vanaman's sentence to be handed down Friday. Dylan Vanaman, an 11th grade Millville High School student, said that his father "has more love and compassion than anyone else I know. Just look at him. How can you tell me he doesn't feel bad for what happened?" he said to Herman... With photos of Barbara Vanaman prominently displayed in the center of the courtroom, friends and family of the Millville woman urged the court to sentence Robert Vanaman to the maximum sentence under his plea agreement - 11 years and two months in state prison. The culmination of witnesses testifying on behalf of Barbara Vanaman was her mother and [stepfather]. John Shaffer, Barbara Vanaman's [stepfather], lamented the loss of Barbara, but said it was not only his daughter-in-law whom he lost in her death. "On May 11, 2006, I lost a big part of my wife as well," he said of his wife Karen... Herman can reject the plea agreement if he chooses, and asked the family whether they were satisfied with the plea... Barbara Vanaman's sister, Cynthia Locke, said her feelings were mixed about the plea. "There's no win here," she said of the potential outcome of Robert Vanaman's case. "There hasn't been a win since the day (Robert Vanaman) killed my sister. We've all lost. There's no win. If he would have gone to trial and been found guilty, he would have appealed it, and we'd be doing this over and over"... The tears continued as Robert Vanaman's father and mother testified on his behalf. "There's been a lot of things said about my son," said Warren Vanaman, Robert Vanaman's father. "He was an excellent police officer for 15 years. He's not the monster he's been made out to be. He loves his sons"... [Full article here]


Robert Vanaman breaks down at manslaughter sentencing hearing
by Matt Dunn, The News of Cumberland County
Monday April 27, 2009, 1:43 PM
[Excerpts] Former Millville police Sgt. Robert Vanaman broke down in tears this afternoon as his 17-year-old son Dylan pleaded with the court to show leniency for his father... "Just look at him. How can you tell me he doesn't feel bad for what happened... No one can take the place of my mother but no one can take the place of my dad either... I'll miss my dad so much during the duration of his sentence. In my mind, not because of what I heard, but in my mind, I'll always believe it was self-defense"... Family and friends of Robert Vanaman gave statements this afternoon in an attempt to convince the court to show lieniency to Vanaman. Most described him as a caring and devoted father, urging Herman not to break up him as his sons any longer than neccessary. Some lashed out at Barbara Vanaman, but many stuck to defending Robert Vanaman... [Full article here]

Prosecutor and defense counsel argue factors in Robert Vanaman's sentencing
The News of Cumberland County
by Matt Dunn
Monday April 27, 2009, 3:15 PM
[Excerpts] First Assistant Prosecutor Ken Pagliughi argued this afternoon that former Millville police Sgt. Robert Vanaman should receive the maximum sentence permitable under his plea agreement on charges of manslaughter and tampering with evidence. Vanaman's attorney argued for a sentence less than the maximum. "A fair sentence would be the minimum sentence that the law provides," said Vineland attorney Joseph O'Neill. Robert Vanaman, 40, who admitted last month fatally shooting his 37-year-old wife Barbara Vanaman then attempting to cover up the shooting, faces up to 12 years and two months in prison when he is sentenced Friday. A sentencing hearing took place today to allow Superior Court Judge Martin Herman sufficient time to determine the length of Robert Vanaman's sentence. Vanaman could have faced up to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder, for which he was charged. Pagliughi asked Herman to consider the circumstances of the shooting, the likelihood that Vanaman will commit future acts of domestic violence and the need to deter criminal behavior as reasons for a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison - 10 years for manslaughter and two for tampering with evidence. He explained, after Vanaman took the plea, Pagliughi said that the defendant made admissions which showed that he provoked the dispute which led to his wife's shooting. He said Robert Vanaman made disparaging comments about his wife's deceased father and she became enraged... Pagliughi also said that Robert Vanaman had a history of domestic violence with Barbara Vanaman prior to the shooting... The couple were on the verge of divorce prior to the shooting. On May 11, 2006, the night of the incident, Robert and Barbara Vanaman planned to tell their two children that they were splitting up... Herman will decide Friday on Robert Vanaman's sentence. "No matter what I decide in this case, someone's going to be unhappy," the judge said, prior to adjouring for the day. "That's the role I took in this case. It's part of our system. I'm going to do what's fair and right in this case." [Full article here]

Barbara Vanaman's parents testify
The Daily Journal
By Joseph P. Smith
April 27, 2009
[Excerpts] ...John Shaffer, Barbara's stepfather, was the 20th witness of the morning. "I remember vividly the first day we viewed Barb's body," he said. "It was as if someone tore a piece fromm my chest."... According to family, Dylan Vanaman, the elder sons of Barbara, sides with his father and has been distant with his mother's family. His brother Dean visits the family but is in emotional distress. Shaffer said he was Dylan's "hero" but the teenager now thinks his dad is the hero... Vanaman has "tarnished every memory... To him, winning is what it's all about"... Karin Shaffer recalled her grandson Dylan walking in the house and told her his mother had stabbed his father, "I hope she goes to Hell." he said to her... [Full article here]

Murder victim's boyfriend testifies, says Barb Vanaman was finally happy
The Daily Journal
By Joseph P. Smith
April 27, 2009
[Excerpts] ...Joel Dugan, the victim's boyfriend, was seeing Barbara Vanaman while she still was married. The day she was shot to death in her kitchen, witnesses said today, she was happy and telling her husband she was leaving to be with Dugan. Dugan himself did not appear in court but his letter was ready by another friend, Joe Klueg. Dugan's letter said Barbara Vanaman had gone through life trying to find people to love her but never feeling loved... Dugan said his "solace" was knowing he had made her happy...Johanna Klueg also said she believes "he laid in wait" for his wife, saying he seldom had his weapon with him and had come home early... "Dylan and Dean _ it was truly your mother who was selfless," she said... [Full article here]

Vanaman's son asks for mercy
The Daily Journal
By Joseph P. Smith
April 28, 2009
[Excerpts] Dylan Vanaman's name came up in testimony about as often as his father's did... When the 17-year-old took his turn to speak, he spoke at length of his father as a kind, hard-working parent and "best friend... He's my safe environment... He makes me feel safe... He has more true love and compassion for me than anybody else"... Dylan Vanaman said he wished his father had not taken the plea bargain. "But I know why he took it," he said. "He wants to see me and Dean again"... [Full article here]

Vanaman suppporters describe forgiving husband, good father
The Daily Journal
By Joseph P. Smith
April 27, 2009
[Excerpts] The teenage son of murder defendant Robert E. Vanaman today asked for a minimum prison sentence for his father... "He loved her with all his heart... Can anybody tell me he doesn't feel bad about what happened?" the boy said. "He's my safe environment." The first witness of the afternoon was Melissa Sooy, an English teacher in the Millville School District who formerly had Dillon Vanaman in her class. Sooy called the youth an "exceptional student" and a "straight A student. She also said that his father was the parent who almost always came into contact with teachers. "He was the very hands on parent" Sooy said... [Full article here]

Attorneys close Vanaman hearing arguing mitigation, aggravating factors
The Daily Journal
By JOSEPH P. SMITH
April 27, 2009
[Excerpts] ...With witnesses exhausted, attorneys turned to arguing over how the defendant fitted into state sentencing criteria. The criteria deal with "aggravating" and "mitigating" factors... The prosecutor also said the victim had three layers of clothes on, but suffered skin burns because Vanaman pressed the muzzle of his service handgun on her chest when he fired twice... He said the first officer on the scene, after handcuffing Robert Vanaman, found Barbara Vanaman still had a pulse. Her husband had done nothing to try to save her life... [Full article here]

Pagliughi has second thoughts
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
By MATT DUNN
mdunn@sjnewsco.com
[Excerpts] ...Robert Vanaman's post plea deal statement, released Monday, has caused First Assistant Prosecutor Ken Pagliughi to give second thoughts to the plea deal. "When I gave him the plea deal, I had no idea what Robert Vanaman was going to say in his pre-sentence interview," the first assistant prosecutor said in court Monday. "Now that I have this statement, I have a better understanding of Robert Vanaman's state of mind prior to the shooting"... According to Pagliughi, Robert Vanaman told a probation officer, after agreeing to a plea deal, that on May 11, 2006, he knew his wife was going to leave him for good. "He was not happy that she was going to leave him with the house and the kids and all the responsibilities," Pagliughi said. "He decided to throw a monkey wrench into her plans by forcing her into a position where she would have to stay at the house and take care of the sons." Friends and family of Barbara Vanaman testified Monday that the Millville woman planned to begin a new life with her boyfriend... "(Robert) told her that she couldn't go to Ocean City and be a whore all summer while he took care of the sons. The argument escalated until Robert spoke of Barbara Vanaman's father, whom she idolized," Pagliughi said. "Barbara just wanted to go to Ocean City, meet the love of her life, get a bottle of wine and start her new life. (Robert Vanaman) continued to escalate the argument." Pagliughi said Robert Vanaman told Barbara Vanaman that her father, who was deceased, "would be proud of what a whore she has become." That's when the situation grew physical, Robert Vanaman claimed... Pagliughi said the fact that Robert Vanaman escalated the argument should be considered in his sentencing. Superior Court Judge Martin Herman responded that "if you now think it's murder, you shouldn't have made a plea agreement"... After court, Pagliughi told the family of Barbara Vanaman that if he knew then what he knows now about Robert Vanaman's state of mind, he does not know if he would have felt the same about offering the plea deal... [Full article here]

Complete remarks of Judge Martin A. Herman
The Daily Journal
April 28, 2009
[Excerpt] I want to thank you, ladies and genlemen, for coming here today, to paritcipate in what I believe we all know will be a most difficult day. Before we begin, I believe it is most essential, most appropriate that you understand--that all our county citizens understand--those core principles, which must guide me as a judge, as I endeavor to carefully listen to what you have to say, and to dutifully inquire and probe, as may be necessary, to aid me in reaching a decision that protects and advances the fair administration of justice... [Full article here]
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