Grandmother Pleads Guilty In Attempted Murder — (New Hampshire Union Leader)

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New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, NH)

January 13, 1996

(PHOTO) By MARK HAYWARD Union Leader Correspondent

NEWPORT — A 45-year-old Franconia woman pleaded guilty yesterday to trying to kill her two granddaughters last May, avoiding an upcoming trial on two attempted murder charges.  Sobbing quietly during emotional parts of a 20-minute hearing, Virginia Rowell entered the guilty pleas to the two felony charges against her.

A background investigation was ordered, and she was returned to Grafton County Jail.  In mid-May, police said Rowell gave herself and her granddaughters overdoses of anti-depressants in a planned murder-suicide attempt.

At the time, her grand-daughters – Amber and Alyssa – were 8 and 2 years old, respectively. She had adopted one.  Rowell left a suicide note saying she was despondent over a failed relationship.  ”Don’t ever let yourself love someone this much. It hurts like hell. You welcome death,” she wrote. She wrote she knew it was wrong to take the girls, but she couldn’t leave them behind.

Facing Superior Court Judge Robert Morrill, Rowell withdrew pleas of not guilty. As part of the plea bargain, her lawyer will argue for a prison sentence of six to 30 years.  Prosecutors will ask for a higher sentence of 15 to 30 years. If the eventual sentence falls outside either range, either side can reject the plea bargain and send the case to trial.

Rowell, a dimimutive, curly-haired woman, wore purple tights, black boots and a cotton sweater at yesterday’s hearing. She sobbed quietly when Morrill asked her a series of questions about the crime.  Queries dealt with her guilt, and whether she in fact committed the crime.

At times, Rowell squeaked out a ”yes” when asked if she was guilty. Other times she answered the yes/no questions in a gasp. During difficult questioning, she sunk to a chair and cried quietly.  John C. Kissinger, the prosecutor with the state Attorney General’s Office, estimated it will be about a month before a background investigation is completed. After the investigation is done, a sentencing hearing will be scheduled.

Record Number:  0F5450F3803B6D0B