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Another plea entered in murder, kidnapping case

November 15, 2018 GMT

HUNTINGTON — A case involving the deadly stabbing of a man, as well as the kidnapping of his girlfriend, last year continued to move forward Tuesday with another defendant accepting a plea deal to testify against the alleged main culprit.

Cheryl D. Nance, 30, entered a deferred adjudication agreement Tuesday before Cabell Circuit Judge Paul T Farrell to her role in the death of Michael Sutphin and the beating of kidnapping victim Tara Gillispie over a period of days in late December 2017.

If she is able to stay out of legal trouble and follow guidelines set for her by the court for six months, all charges against her will be dropped. A May 14 date was set for her to return to court.


Sutphin died around Dec. 29 and was found days after his death in the back of a van, which was later determined to be intentionally crashed, along Barker Ridge Road north of Milton. Brian Michael “Mikey” Bragg, 30, of Milton, was charged with murder and accused of stabbing Sutphin with a spearlike rod.

Nance, her husband, Robert Lee Nance, 39, and Cynthia Renee Bumgarner, 45, were charged with kidnapping, malicious wounding and conspiracy as alleged co-conspirators in the case.

Robert Nance entered a Kennedy plea earlier this month to malicious wounding and being an accessory after the fact. He has been sentenced to serve a three-to 15-year prison sentence by Farrell.

Co-defendant Bumgarner, 45, was also set to enter a plea to malicious wounding and being an accessory after the fact Tuesday, but it was delayed until next week after assistant prosecutor Joe Fincham said he had miscom-municated to the defendant’s attorney the punishment for being an accessory.

Fincham said while he mistakenly represented it as being a three-to 15-year sentence, he now believes the penalty for being an accessory is actually up to five years in prison. A new offer will be made to Bumgarner and Robert Nance’s plea forms will also reflect the three-to 15-year sentence, he said.

Bumgarner requested to be released on home confinement while attorneys worked through the issue Tuesday, but Farrell denied the request.

Bragg allegedly stabbed Sutphin with a spear-like rod for attacking his brother, who was accused of attacking Gillispie. Gillispie testified the group of defendants took her hostage at Bragg’s home, later moving to the Nances’ home, where she was allegedly severely beaten and stabbed. She was later released and did not inform authorities of what had happened until days later.

All defendants except for Cheryl Nance are jailed in West Virginia correctional facilities.

Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.