02/09/05 — Mount Olive woman pleads guilty to murder

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Mount Olive woman pleads guilty to murder

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on February 9, 2005 2:15 PM

KENANSVILLE -- A Mount Olive woman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Tuesday in Duplin Superior Court.

Tammy Sue Wilt, 39, was on trial for the January 2003 shooting death of Phil Britt, the man with whom she had been living for several years in a mobile home on Garner Chapel Road.

Under a plea agreement reached Tuesday, Judge Russell Lanier sentenced Ms. Wilt to at least 12 years and seven months in prison. The sentence could last a maximum of almost 16 years. Lanier gave her credit for the time served, which was has been about two years and one month.

Prosecutors were not seeking the death penalty.

Prosecutor Ernie Lee told the judge Britt had proposed to another woman, Lucinda Goff of Dudley, the night before his death.

Lee said several of Ms. Wilt's cellmates in the Duplin County Jail told investigators she admitted to killing Britt. One of the cellmates reportedly said Ms. Wilt said she "snapped and shot the victim." Another said Ms. Wilt told her she was "tired of being abused," that she and Britt had been fighting and that she had been sleeping on the couch. Another reported that Britt was being abusive to her at the time she shot him.

The murder weapon, believed to be a .357 Ruger, was never found.

Ms. Wilt's defense lawyer, Glenn Barfield, had earlier argued that her Sixth Amendment rights had been violated.

Barfield told the court that much of the evidence gathered against Ms. Wilt while she was in jail should not be admissible in court.