By Chris Mayhew
The Cincinnati Enquirer
NEWPORT - A 23-year-old Melbourne man was sentenced to 35 years in prison Monday in Campbell County Circuit Court for the murder of his live-in girlfriend, Carrie Smalling, on April 27, 2002.
The sentence for James C. Prichard was accepted by both the Commonwealth Attorney's Office and the defense in a plea bargain. Prichard will become eligible for parole after 20 years, including time already served.
Smalling, 21, of Silver Grove was shot twice with a .22-caliber gun, once in the head. Survivors include two small children, Ivy, now 4, and Courtney, 17 months.
Family members said Prichard is the father of Ivy, and that Prichard's best friend fathered Courtney.
At the sentencing, Smalling's two sisters sobbed as they read a statement directed at Prichard.
"You, J.C., you killed her execution-style. You pressed the gun between her eyes, knowing it would end her life," said her sister, Christina Crank, 21.
"I hope you think of it every night before you lay down," Crank said.
Crank said Prichard was part of their family; photos of her sister without him were hard to come by.
During her statement, Tisha Bowen said the hardest thing she ever had to do was to look at her sister in a coffin.
"She was young, and her smile could brighten a room," Bowen said.
Carrie Smalling's parents said they were not happy with the plea agreement because they wanted Prichard to go through a jury trial, despite the possibility he might serve less time.
"This plea bargain wasn't what we wanted," said John Smalling of Newport. "I think a jury would have given him more."
Commonwealth Attorney Jack L. Porter Jr. said he was satisfied with the plea agreement.
"It's always a risk when you go to trial that you're not going to get as much as you want," Porter said. "If I was sitting where the victim's families are, I would want more."
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