The man who killed Bette Winn in 2009 will be on the streets in about 11 days.
Joe Gregory Wilson, who pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree manslaughter Feb. 28 with Winn’s family in support of the move, was sentenced Friday to five years.
However, that will be probated after Wilson has served 60 days, and he’s already served 46 days, leaving less than two weeks before he is released. Wilson was taken into custody following his February guilty plea.
Special prosecutor David Nutgrass, of Shelby County, says the fact that Wilson will be released so soon after sentencing is “a bitter pill to swallow” for Winn’s family.
Wilson, 59, pleaded guilty to beating 53-year-old Winn in the early morning hours of Oct. 17, 2009. Winn died the next day from head injuries resulting from the beating.
He was charged with first-degree manslaughter the following July.
Franklin Circuit Court was in recess after motion hour Friday while Judge Thomas Wingate waited for Nutgrass to arrive from Shelby County. Family members from both Winn’s and Wilson’s families were present.
“Mr. Wilson, a lot of what has happened is because of your alcohol abuse,” Wingate said after he sentenced Wilson.
“As a judge for 13 years, I’ve seen the number one drug that affects people in our community is alcohol by far. More than crack cocaine, meth or any of the other drugs. It leads to situations like this, and it has led to the death of this young lady.”
In February 2010, medical examiner Dr. Mary E. Goolsby ruled Winn’s death a homicide. In the autopsy report, she said Winn died “as a result of blunt impacts to the head, with hepatic cirrhosis (a liver disease) as a significant contributing factor.”
Wilson entered his guilty plea at the opening of his trial on Feb. 28.
During the opening arguments of the trial, Nutgrass said Winn, Wilson, Winn’s niece, Amy Holland – who were all living at Wilson’s home at 4232 Georgetown Road – and a friend went to Rose’s Pub off East Main Street Oct. 16, 2009.
Nutgrass said Winn left early because she wasn’t feeling well, while the rest went to Parley’s Tavern on Versailles Road.
Based on witness accounts, Nutgrass said Wilson’s behavior “began to become somewhat unacceptable.”
Wilson was asked to leave the bar around midnight, and it was then he got into an altercation with a man outside the bar, Nutgrass said. Wilson “punched (the man) in the nose,” and the man responded by hitting Wilson until he was on the ground, Nutgrass said.
Wilson tried to walk home and was picked up along Versailles Road near the East-West Connector around 1:15 a.m. by the owner of Rose’s Pub, who recognized Wilson and dropped him off at his home, Nutgrass said.
Holland came home later to find Winn injured, and records show she called police at 3:47 a.m. to report a domestic disturbance.
It was in that timeframe – between when Wilson got home and Holland returned – that Wilson beat Winn and caused the injuries responsible for her death, Nutgrass said.
Wilson’s attorney, David Guarnieri, of Lexington, said other injuries were discovered at the autopsy.
One of the sheriff’s deputies who responded to the domestic dispute testified he found Winn that night with a black eye, bruises and abrasions on her face.
Guarnieri said Winn suffered from “alcohol and intravenous drug abuse.” He said Winn’s injuries were “consistent with somebody who’s had a lot of bumps and bruises, someone who particularly has fallen down … if you were drunk, or if you, for whatever reason, had bad balance.”
Also testifying were brothers Steve and Robert Hanly. Both men said they saw Winn that Saturday with the same injuries listed in the domestic dispute report.
Robert Hanly testified that Winn came to his home around 8 a.m. Oct. 17 to “clean up” and shower and then left around noon.
Steve Hanly testified that around 6 p.m., Winn arrived at his home at 719 Kentucky Ave. for dinner. Winn then went out and returned around 1 a.m. to spend the night, he said.
Hanly testified that Winn had a seizure in her sleep but she “laughed it off.” He went to Walmart sometime between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. Sunday, he said, and when he left, Winn was snoring.
About 10 a.m., Hanly said he went to go wake Winn and found her in his bed unresponsive, stiff and turning blue.
As part of probation, Wilson will pay for Winn’s burial costs and undergo mental and substance abuse evaluations. Wingate ordered Wilson to follow all recommendations from the tests he had to take.
Wilson will also attend anger management classes and will be incarcerated if any charges are filed against him while on the five years of probation, Wingate said.