Roberts, McCoy sentenced to life in prison

Convicted of murder in death of Penni Curtiss

Jessica Roberts, 27, was sentenced Monday morning for the 2017 death of Penni Curtiss. (Photo by Madeline Scarborough)

PARKERSBURG — The family of the late Penni Curtiss, who was murdered Dec. 11, 2017, was relieved to bring the trial to an end Monday morning.

Jessica Roberts, 27, and Kenneth McCoy Jr., 34, who were found guilty of murder in the first degree, felony murder, conspiracy to commit a criminal offense, robbery in the first degree, burglary and grand larceny, were sentenced to prison by Wood County Circuit Court Judge Robert Waters. Due to double jeopardy, Roberts and McCoy were not sentenced on the charge of felony murder.

“This was one of, if not the most vicious and violent crimes in Wood County’s history,” Waters said.

Courtney Ahlborn, Roberts’ defense attorney, argued that of the two, Roberts was least culpable and that her past abuse contributed to her involvement.

“There is no excuse for this crime, and no one person to blame, both are responsible,” Waters said.

From left, attorney John Oshoway and his client Kenneth McCoy Jr., 34, await to hear the sentence from Wood County Circuit Court Judge Robert Waters Monday morning for the 2017 death of Penni Curtiss. (Photo by Madeline Scarborough)

Before being sentenced, Roberts apologized to the Curtiss family for ever being romantically involved with someone like McCoy, said that she prays for them every night and hopes that one day the family could forgive her.

At this, Prosecutor Pat Lefebure pointed out that Roberts is still not taking responsibility for her actions.

“I hope God grants you mercy but it is hard for us,” said Susan Ramirez, who is now caring for Curtiss’ oldest daughter Donna Jo McCormick.

“You committed a despicable act against our family and I personally hear your words ‘I thought it would be cool to kill someone,’ over and over in my head,” Ramirez said.

Waters sentenced Roberts to life in prison with the possibility of parole for murder in the first degree; one to five years with 365 days credit for conspiracy to commit a criminal offense; 20 years for robbery in the first degree; one to 10 years for burglary and one to 10 years with 229 days credit for grand larceny. The sentences will run consecutively.

“Although the jury gave mercy, it is my recommendation to the parole board that she serves a substantial amount of time for the charge of murder in the first degree,” Waters said.

McCoy was sentenced at 10:30 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. due to John Oshoway, his attorney, being an hour and a half late.

McCoy said Oshoway did not go over the presentencing report with him, but that he did not wish to review it in court. When asked if Oshoway had any comments for the court to consider before sentencing, he stated that due to the circumstances he would not be taking up any more of the court’s time.

Members of the Curtiss family spoke to the court.

“My mother’s death has really messed me up mentally,” said McCormick. “My life will never be the same; she was my rock.”

McCoy was sentenced to life without the chance of parole for murder in the first degree; one to five years for conspiracy to commit a criminal offense; 20 years for robbery in the first degree; one to 10 years for burglary and one to 10 years for grand larceny.

Oshoway told the court that McCoy desires to appeal to the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Madeline Scarborough can be reached at mscarborough@newsandsentinel.com

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