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UPDATE: Former Franklin County school nurse sentenced in murder-for-hire plot

By Web Staff, news@wdbj7.com
Frankie Jupiter, fjupiter@wdbj7.com
Published On: Aug 13 2013 07:45:35 AM EDT
Updated On: Oct 17 2013 11:13:54 PM EDT

For the first time we're hearing from one of the people involved in a murder for hire scheme in Franklin County.

ROCKY MOUNT, Va. -

Former Franklin County school nurse Cathy Bennett was sentenced Thursday for trying to help a co-worker, Angela Nolen, hire a hit-man to kill her ex-husband.

Bennett was sentenced to five years in prison, but she will only serve 18 months.

The bizarre murder-for-hire case started in February when Angela Nolen, now in prison, asked her co-worker Cathy Bennett to help her kill her ex-husband.

The case was so bizarre that the court had no guidelines for how to sentence Bennett because a case like this had never shown up in a Franklin County courtroom.

Almost one entire side of the courtroom was filled with people testifying on Bennett's behalf.

Co-workers, former employers, her parents and her ex-husband told the court that Bennett's participation in this was out of character and a complete shock.

A forensic psychologist was also brought in to offer his assessment of Bennett's mental state.

Although not exactly what the attorneys trying the case wanted, they believe justice was served.

“It’s hard to know what the appropriate sentence is in regards to other people who may have been sentenced this way because this crime is such an unusual occurrence that we don’t have a lot to go by,“ Franklin County Commonwealth’s attorney Tim Allen said.

“Satisfied in the context that it could have been a lot worse. Recall that Nolen was sentenced to eight years in prison. Eighteen months with time served, a little more than a year will my client be incarcerated. Clearly for her or a person like her, gosh fifteen minutes in jail is horrible,“ Bennett’s attorney, Ward Armstrong said.

Bennett's official charge was conspiracy to commit murder.

She'll finish out her sentence at Western Virginia Regional Jail and cannot appeal today's judgment.

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Former Franklin County school nurse Cathy Bennett was sentenced Thursday for trying to help a co-worker, Angela Nolen, hire a hit-man to kill her ex-husband.

Bennett was sentenced to five years, with all but 18 months suspended. She will also serve four years of probation.

Check back soon for more updates.

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A former Franklin County school nurse faces up to 10 years in prison for trying to help a co-worker hire a hit-man to kill the woman's ex-husband.

Cathy Bennett pleaded guilty in Franklin County Circuit Court on Tuesday to a conspiracy to commit murder charge. Bennett will be sentenced October 17.

She admitted to helping her friend and co-worker, Angela Nolen, hire a hit-man to kill Nolen's ex-husband, Paul Strickler, back in February. Bennett, 38, was a school nurse at Sontag Elementary School. Nolen was a kindergarten teacher at the school.

The judge also revoked Bennett's bond. Her lawyer argued against revoking bond, but the judge said the crime was too serious.

"I anticipate that a little bit more of the details will come out during the sentencing hearing when we have it in October. Today was just sort of the bare bones about what see did and why she should be found guilty," said Commonwealth's Attorney, Tim Allen.

In June, former Sontag Elementary kindergarten teacher Angela Nolen pleaded guilty to the crime. Nolen, 47, could get up to 40 years in prison.