Man gets 3 years probation for being accessory to murder

December 23, 2011 1:44:30 PM PST
An accessory to a 2009 Guerneville murder was sentenced in Sonoma County Superior Court Friday morning to three years of probation.

Gary Alan Scott, 58, pleaded no contest in June 2010 to being an accessory to the strangulation murder of Michael Van Tillman, 67, in Tillman's Guerneville home on June 25, 2009.

Andrew Sharkey, 38, of Guerneville, pleaded no contest to the murder and robbery and will be sentenced Jan. 20.

Sharkey also admitted he personally used a garrote to strangle Tillman and pleaded no contest to elder abuse, Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch said.

Sharkey learned that Tillman, his neighbor, kept a large amount of money in his home, Ravitch said. After strangling Tillman with the braided wire, Sharkey stole Tillman's cash, Ravitch said.

Sharkey informed the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office on June 27 that he had witnessed a murder three days earlier. Tillman's body was then found in the downstairs garage area of his Orchard Avenue home.

Scott, a Guerneville resident, was arrested in Prescott, Az. for the murder and admitted being an accessory. Sheriff's deputies then arrested Sharkey. Scott was expected to testify at Sharkey's trial.

Scott was charged as an accessory because he agreed to drive Sharkey back to Guerneville after Sharkey drove Tillman's truck to Santa Rosa, Chief Deputy District Attorney Diana Gomez said.

By pleading no contest to first-degree murder, Sharkey avoided a mandatory life sentence because the murder happened during a residential burglary, the district attorney's office said. Sharkey will serve the 32-year term included in his plea agreement before he is eligible for parole, Ravitch said.

Sharkey also waived his right to an appeal and cannot challenge his prison sentence under any circumstances, Ravitch said.

Judge Arthur Wick reduced Scott's felony accessory charge today to a misdemeanor offense as part of a plea agreement.

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