Friday, December 14, 2001

Woman sentenced for killing co-worker

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — The Cambodian immigrant who pumped 17 bullets into a co-worker last year was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to murder.

        Sophal Prom, 35, admitted killing Darlene Adams, 42, of Newport, Sept. 28, 2000, at Prestige Display & Packaging in Fairfield. Ms. Prom said she didn't realize she had shot Ms. Adams 17 times.

Sophal Prom
Sophal Prom
        “I did not mean to kill anybody that night,” Ms. Prom told Judge H.J. Bressler of Butler County Common Pleas Court in a barely audible voice.

        “It was kind of like a car accident that just happened that night.”

        Ms. Adams' mother and two brothers were in the courtroom Thursday. After hearing her daughter was shot 17 times, Jeanette Page gasped and later broke down in tears outside. Ms. Adams, who is survived by two children, ages 19 and 15, graduated from Covington Holmes High School and served in the Air Force.

        Steve Green, one of Ms. Adams' brothers, addressed Ms. Prom in court. Instead of lashing out, he gently spoke of forgiveness.

        “There's a lot of things that are said in animosity because of the pain in our family,” said Mr. Green, 47, of Mount Auburn.

        “But we try to refrain from saying anything because of the love within us. We were raised that way. We hope we make it through this. We hope (Ms. Prom) makes it through this, too. God bless her.”

        Ms. Prom had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to aggravated murder and had faced 23 years to life in prison. She later pleaded guilty to the reduced charge.

        Her attorney, Greg Howard of Hamilton, told the Enquirer he didn't think he could defend her, because two doctors who examined her found her sane at the time of the shooting.

        Dozens of Prestige workers who witnessed the shooting also were scheduled to testify at Ms. Prom's trial, which was to begin Monday.

        Police said Ms. Prom had argued with Ms. Adams before the shooting, but no details of a motive were revealed.

        “I really don't think this lady understands the significance of what she has done here,” Mr. Howard told the judge.

        But last year's shooting is not the first time Ms. Prom has gotten in trouble with a gun, according to police records and her sisters.

        She had two pistols confiscated by police after two incidents in 1993.

        In one episode, after a standoff with police at the Hamilton YWCA, she shot herself in the upper left arm, records show. In December of that year, she pointed a gun at a Butler County deputy who had tried to serve her with papers. She later shot herself during negotiations.

        By May 2000, Ms. Prom had purchased a third gun, the .380-caliber semiautomatic she later used to kill Ms. Adams.

        In the months before the shooting, Ms. Prom lived with her two sisters, mother, brother-in-law and two nephews, but she was trying to be independent. She donated to Cambodian charities, had just been hired full-time at Prestige, and her sister, Sokha Than, had loaned her money for a new car, records show and her sisters confirmed in a recent interview.

        She also was prescribed four medications; two of them, risperdal and nortriptyline, are commonly used to treat depression and a chemical imbalance, her pharmacy receipts show.

        Her sisters suspect she didn't take her medication in the days leading up to the shooting.

        Now they worry that prison may be the worst place for their younger sister. They worry she won't receive proper supervision and medical treatment and may wind up dead or hurt.

        “I got a sister who is a killer. But I talked to her today, and she said she's going to be good and take her medicine every day,” Sokha Than said Thursday before court.


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