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franklin county times

Seal sentenced to life in prison

By Staff
Jason Houston FCT Managing Editor
William Sterlin Seal, a 45-year-old Russellville man convicted last month of killing his girlfriend, was sentenced Monday in circuit court to serve life in prison.
A jury deliberated 2 1/2 hours in October before finding Seal guilty of the murder of Connie Gayle Tompkins. The incident took place in August 2003. Seal faced a potential sentence of 10 years to life.
Seal, who has been in jail since his arrest, told jurors during the trial that he and Tompkins were struggling over a shotgun and the gun went off accidentally.
Seal was accused of shooting the 40-year-old Tompkins, his live-in girlfriend, with a .410 shotgun sometime around 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 9, 2003, at Foxridge Apartments C2 in Russellville, where the two had been living for around six months with Seal's uncle, Carl Whitlock.
The state's case during the October trial was based on forensic testimony, the police investigation and the testimony of RPD Investigator David Hester.
The couple had a history of domestic violence, and a neighbor testified the two had a verbal confrontation the night before the murder. In fact, Tompkins spent the night at the neighbor's apartment.
Hester testified that when he arrived at the scene, he found Tompkins lying on her side in the door of a bedroom in the apartment, with her feet in the bedroom.
Hester said the fatal gunshot hit Tompkin's side, puncturing her lung and aorta, causing extensive bleeding.
According to testimony during the trial, officers found a .410 pump shotgun and two spent shell casings in the bedroom near Tompkin's body. One of the pillows in the bedroom had been shot, with pellets and wadding from the shell found inside, Hester testified.
Seal, who testified in his own defense, said Tompkins hit him in the mouth with a bottle and said he acted in self-defense as the two struggled over the gun.
Family members of Tompkins and Seal spoke at the sentencing. Defense attorney Ben Richey said an appeal is planned.
Tompkins will be transferred to state prison. He will get credit for the time served since his arrest.
A forensics expert testified during the trial that Tompkins had trace amounts of cocaine in her system. The defense produced at the trial drug paraphernalia that allegedly belonged to Tompkins.
Richey said during his closing arguments that the altercation between Tompkins and Seal happened when Seal took a crack cocaine pipe away from Tompkins and she became angry.
But Hester testified that no drug paraphernalia was found at the scene. He said Seal's mother brought the pipes to the police three days after the incident.

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