Wife Gets 15 Years for Fatally Shooting MWAA Officer

The woman convicted of manslaughter after killing her husband, a Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police officer, will spend 15 years behind bars following a sentencing hearing in Loudoun County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

Rosangela Spradling, 46, was convicted of fatally shooting her husband, Steve Spradling, in their Sterling home on May 17, 2013.

Judge Benjamin N. A. Kendrick passed down the sentence after a two-day hearing during which attorneys presented witness testimony and evidence.

Rosangela Spradling was convicted of four felonies: voluntary manslaughter, two counts of discharging a firearm in an occupied dwelling and firing a firearm in commission of a felony. She was sentenced to the maximum of 10 years for voluntary manslaughter, plus 10 years for the two counts of discharging a firearm and another five years for firing a firearm in commission of a felony. The judge suspended 10 years.

Leading up to the shooting, the Spradlings were involved in a physical altercation during which Rosangela Spradling was on the floor being strangled by her husband. He released his grip when their children came into the room. She retrieved his firearm from an upstairs bedroom and shot him, according to evidence in the case.

Defense attorneys Robert Bruce and Elizabeth J. Lancaster said Spradling was the victim of frequent violence and abuse at the hands of her husband, a 6-foot-2 trained law enforcement officer who had a drinking problem. Loudoun County deputies were called to the Spradlings’ home seven times in 10 years for domestic violence. They argued that Spradling was acting in self-defense.

“He attacked her, he choked her and was on on top of her when [her daughter] came into the room,” Bruce said. “That’s deadly force.”

He described Rosangela Spradling as mentally ill, but he said she would not be a threat to others in the future because this situation was “a perfect storm” of violence and chaos.

Prosecutors argued that Spradling had plenty of opportunity to call 911 or flee the home ahead of her decision to shoot her husband.

Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Gigi B. Lawless said Spradling ran upstairs to get the gun from the master bedroom closet, realized she couldn’t reach it and went to another room to retrieve a chair. After getting the gun, she ran back downstairs to get the keys to the gun case and returned upstairs to unlock the case. She then fired two practice shots before heading back downstairs, where she shot her husband in the head, according to Lawless.

Lawless said evidence shows that after the first shot, Spradling did not run away but instead shot her husband in the head a second time from a different angle.

“This demonstrates that this was not an act of fear but an act of rage,” said Lawless, who was joined by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Angela L. Vernail.

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