Joyce sentenced in 2014 murder case

A Spencer man was sentenced to a total of 55 years in prison in connection with the murder of a Patrick Springs woman in 2014.
Anthony Octavius Joyce, 37, was convicted of first-degree murder in the strangulation death of Shelly Dawn Gravely of Patrick Springs on Nov. 15, 2014. Joyce was also convicted of grand larceny and concealment of a dead body.
In a sentencing hearing in Patrick County Circuit Court July 1, Judge Jonathan Apgar sentenced Joyce to 40 years in prison for first-degree murder, 10 years for grand larceny and five years for concealing a dead body.
Joyce pleaded guilty in April to the three charges in April, and they were accepted by Judge Jonathan Apgar.
Under a plea agreement between Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Vipperman and Joyce’s attorney, Vikram Kapil of the Public Defenders’ Office, the commonwealth amended a charge of robbery to grand larceny. The plea agreement left the sentencing up to Apgar, who also presided over the sentencing hearing.
Vipperman argued that Joyce should receive the maximum penalty for first-degree murder—up to life in prison—and concealing a body—up to five years in prison.
Kapil said Joyce should receive the lower of the sentencing guidelines for murder—without a weapon vs. with a weapon—and the judge agreed.
Apgar said he would give some leeway because he pleaded guilty, changing the necessity for a jury trial. He also said a jury trial would probably have sentenced Joyce to life in prison for first-degree murder.
But Apgar also said the sentencing guidelines do not reflect the harm caused by Joyce, leading him to sentence Joyce to 40 years.
Gravely and Joyce had been involved in a relationship for several years and broke up on Nov. 14, 2014, according to evidence presented earlier.
According to the commonwealth’s evidence and testimony by Dr. Jennifer Bowers, assistant chief medical examiner for Virginia, Gravely had injuries including hemorrhaging in her throat area, a cut on her forehead, a black eye, small “pinpoint” hemorrhages under the skin on the right side of her face and both eyes, a cut and bruise on her lip and mouth, and bruises, scrapes and contusions on her collarbone, arms and legs.
In her closing argument, Vipperman said Joyce is “a threat to the community” with a history of violence, and that he brutally beat and strangled Gravely, causing her death.
“She saw death coming for at least 30 seconds,” Vipperman said.
Bowers testified earlier that the average person has enough blood circulating to stay conscious for about 30 seconds while being strangled and that it takes minutes of consistent pressure and restrictions of the airway and blood flow to result in death.


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