On Tuesday, one of the two suspects in Harrison County’s first murder in 12 years learned her fate. Eve Kelley was sentenced to 15 and a half years behind bars, after Judge Shawn Hervey determined that Kelley’s high flight risk, her prior felony convictions, her drug and mental health problems, and the serious physical harm the victim suffered, called for the maximum sentence.
“I hope that everyday you spend incarcerated you think of the life you took and the people in the back of the courtroom. and what you took from them,” Judge Hervey told Kelley during her sentencing hearing.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the courtroom as Kelley was being sentenced. Impact statements from his wife, Tami Strother, Strother’s niece and older brother made sure to let Kelley know about the life she took from them. Each described Joe Strother as a caring, family-oriented and loving man. Family members wore a shirt in honor of him as well as a heart charm that contained Strother’s ashes.
“Its really rough its a close knit family, its a big family. Me and Joe have two sons, we have four grandchildren its really rough i feel like my life is falling apart,” Joe’s widow Tami said.
Judge Hervey went into detail about what happened that day last spring, when Eve Kelley hit Strother in the head from behind with a rolling pin three times, then stole his car and ran away from authorities to Florida.
The other suspect in the case, Matthew Dowdle, will be back in court on October 28 for a pre-trial hearing, and on November 20 for his trial.
One of the suspects who pleaded guilty in a Harrison County murder case will appear in court Tuesday for sentencing. Eve Kelley will be in front of Judge Shawn Hervey about 9 a.m.
She faces a maximum sentence of 15 and a half years. Her co-defendant, Matthew Dowdle, will go to trial on November 20.
The two are accused of the murder of Joseph Strother in Sally Buffalo Park early last spring.
Kelley changed her plea from not guilty to guilty on September 30. Part of that agreement said she will plea guilty to three felony charges: involuntary manslaughter, obstruction of justice and theft of an automobile. Kelley and Dowdle were on the run following the murder and were eventually found in Florida.