A New Windsor woman was sentenced to 10 years with all but 18 months suspended Thursday after she pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to second-degree murder.
Teresa Drury, 55, of New Windsor died in May after suffering injuries in the house where she had lived with Harley Nicole Keller, 29, and her husband Nicholas Dolly. Dolly is being held without bail on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree assault.
Prosecutors estimated that the investigation was stalled by 321 days by Keller not disclosing to police what had happened to Drury on March 12, 2018.
Keller, 29, will serve her sentence in the Carroll County Detention Center. An individual can serve a sentence of up to 18 months in the local detention center, and longer sentences must be served in a more long-term correctional facility.
After release, she will serve five years of supervised probation, with the added condition that she is not to contact Drury’s husband. The state chose not to pursue the charges of second-degree murder and first-degree assault that were included in an initial indictment of Keller.
At sentencing in Carroll County Circuit Court, Judge Thomas F. Stansfield noted the seriousness of covering up the wrongful death of a human being for a “protracted” period of time. Keller did not conceal the truth for “a matter of days where one doesn’t know what to do and seeks advice ... that would be entirely different,” Stansfield said.
Keller spoke briefly during the hearing, through tears. “I just want to be home with my kids. I just want to be a mother to them,” she said.
Prosecutors read a statement of facts at the plea hearing. On May 12, 2018, Keller and Dolly lived in a split-level residence in New Windsor with Drury and her husband. Carroll County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the residence May 12 for a medical emergency.
Drury was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. She died May 16 at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.
Keller told police that on May 12 she heard a loud bang and went downstairs to find that Drury had likely fallen while showering due to a medical condition that contributed to falls.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined from an autopsy that the death was the result of blunt force injuries and that they were inconsistent with the story Keller gave police.
In March 2019, deputies responded to the residence when Keller and Dolly reported Drury’s husband missing. Police investigated, finding that he had left the residence after Dolly had threatened him and said he would “kill you like I killed your wife.”
Police interviewed Dolly, Keller and Drury’s husband separately. Dolly admitted to beating Drury and causing her death, according to the statement. He said he went into blind anger rages.
Police said that during the interview, Keller gave three different versions before admitting that Dolly had assaulted Drury on May 12. She told the investigators she lied because she she did not want her husband to get in trouble, according to the statement.
Later, in a recorded phone call between Dolly and Keller while they were incarcerated, they discussed another person burning Keller’s phone because it contained texts between Keller and Dolly about Drury’s death.
The charge of accessory to second-degree murder requires that an individual knows that a crime was committed and assists the person who committed the crime in order to hinder or prevent arrest, prosecution, or trial for that person.
Keller’s defense attorney, Clark Ahlers, said it was important to consider Dolly’s rages, which were not induced by alcohol or substances. He asked the court to consider “the difficulty of being married to such a man.”
If Keller had committed an evil, he said, it was “an evil of undeserved loyalty to the man she was married to.”
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Allan Culver argued that Keller had served 172 days of incarceration awaiting the hearing, far less than the time that the inquiry was delayed. He said that, although it could not be qualified legally, he believed Keller contributed to a “toxic environment” in which Dolly would feel that he could assault Drury with no consequences.
The state and the defense disagreed over the interpretation of sentencing guidelines. They disagreed on whether the sentence maxed out at two years or at only probation.
After the plea hearing, Ahlers said he was satisfied with the sentencing and said it was fair to the interests of the state and the community, as well as his client.
It would be Keller’s choice whether to file an appeal, but Ahlers did not not give an indication that she would do so. In the distant future, he said he would ask for a reconsideration of her sentence in order to clean up her record to help her with finding employment.
Ahlers predicted that if Dolly’s case goes to a trial, Keller will not be able to call upon the Fifth Amendment, which protects an accused person from being forced to incriminate themselves. Because she has taken a guilty plea and the period for making an appeal will have passed, she could likely be compelled to testify, he said.