Adoptive Parent Opposes Plea Deal in Mother’s Murder Case

Three years ago, a Chantilly man was charged with the murder of his 36-year-old wife. Now, prosecutors are proposing a plea agreement that would send the 50-year-old man to prison for 42 years without the possibility of appeal. However, the adoptive mother of the three children orphaned by that crime opposes it.

In October 2017, Frank Price was charged with first-degree murder for the death of his wife, Winsome Ann Marie Price, who was the mother of two daughters and a young son. Three years of pre-trial motions and continuances have led to a scheduled seven-day jury trial to begin in Circuit Court on Oct. 13.

With a charge of first-degree murder, Price faces the possibility of life in prison, although Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj said the state’s sentencing guidelines suggest a prison term of 18-31 years in his case. Instead, she said, the deal would avoid the trauma and uncertainty of a trial, preclude any chance of appeal, and sentence Price to a life sentence with all but 42 years suspended—seeing him released, if he lives that long and is unable to win geriatric parole, at 92 years old. Biberaj said winning geriatric parole is uncommon in Virginia, and given the violent details of the case, “the chances in my opinion are none that he will ever get parole.”

But the woman who adopted the Price family’s three children, Eva Maria Barner, is soliciting community support in asking the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to withdraw the plea deal and take the case to trial next month.

“We don’t ask for this from a place of anger or hatred for Frank Price. But we do want#Justice4Winsome,” Barner wrote in a Sept. 14 Facebook post. “[T]o us, that means her killer should experience incarceration for the rest of his life; no ‘ifs, ands, or buts.’”

“[Frank] deprived [Winsome] of her life and of her dreams for a better life,” Barner wrote. “Her killing was a brutal, senseless and inexcusable as any that has made national news. … We do not want a plea bargain.”

“It takes away all of the anxiety that a family would have regarding appeals, it takes away any of the lack of finality in the case, it allows the family and those affected to be able to come in for sentencing purposes to speak so they are able to use their voices,” Biberaj said in an interview. And, she said, as for the young children, “if they mature in the future and they feel some angst or guilt about the fact that they may have said or done something about their father’s sentence, it puts that all on us.”

A judge’s decision on whether to grant the deal is expected before the scheduled trial date in October.

rgreene@loudounnow.com and pszabo@loudounnow.com

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