Hanover man pleads guilty to killing estranged wife, weeks after Mother’s Day

Posted at 2:01 PM, Oct 09, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-09 14:04:03-04

HANOVER COUNTY, Va (WTVR) -- Today inside a Hanover Circuit Courtroom, Ryan Paul Markham, 33, plead guilty to four charges, to include the killing of his estranged wife, Sabrina Markham--three weeks after Mother's Day. 

"It's about as clear-cut case of first degree murder as we've seen in Hanover in recent years," Hanover County Chief Deputy Commonwealth Attorney Shari Skipper said.

Markham wore an orange jail suit and sat stone-faced and unemotional inside the courtroom Tuesday as he entered a guilty plea for murder, aggravated malicious wounding and two firearm charges. 

It has been four months since Markham admitted going to his estranged wife's Candleberry Drive home, where he shot her 11 times with a SKS assault rifle.  Markham also admitted on Tuesday the same rifle was used to shoot Sabrina's boyfriend, Blake Minter six times.

"Blake Minter was significantly injured," Skipper said.  "His arm will never be the same and he has significant permanent injuries."

The Commonwealth's attorney told the court on June 2, Markham ate at a local Applebee's restaurant.  Before leaving the establishment, prosecutors told the judge Markham left the bartender with a chilling message.

"He said to the bartender at Applebee's that afternoon, to watch the news that a massacre was going to happen," Skipper said.

But Markham's defense lawyer denied the statement.

The prosecutors went on to tell the court after leaving the restaurant, the 33-year-old headed to his parents house to retrieve the murder weapon.  Markham then made his way to Sabrina's home only to find the front door locked.  He eventually discovered the back kitchen door was unlocked.  Prosecutors said Markham found Sabrina and her boyfriend hiding inside a bedroom closet.  Minter begged Markham to put the gun down, but the plea was ignored as Markham shot and killed Sabrina and wounded Blake Minter. 

Skipper told the judge Minter was able to pull out his own weapon, a .38 revolver, and shot Markham in self-defense.  Markham, according to court records, was found lying on the kitchen floor as he tried to escape the same way he entered the home. 

"Sabrina Markham was a mother, a daughter, a sister, a best friend," Skipper said. 

Two days before the killing, Sabrina was granted a protective order barring Markham from contacting her.

Sabrina's family and friends were emotional inside the courtroom as the evidence was presented.  After the proceeding they did not want to speak with reporters, instead they said they would likely talk after the sentencing phase--which is set to take place on February 26 at 1:30 p.m.

Markham's defense attorney, John Rockecharlie, did release a statement that reads:

"Ryan accepted full responsibility for his actions on 6/2.  We intend to show the court the full circumstances surrounding this tragic event."

Prosecutors agreed on Tuesday no additional charges would be filed against Markham based on his plea of guilt to the various charges.  Ryan Paul Markham is facing two life sentences, plus six years behind bars.  Because the state of Virginia does not offer parole, Markham would have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.

Stay with CBS 6 News and for continuing coverage of this story.