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Woman Gets Moments With Infant Daughter After Judges Deny Leniency Plea

October 11, 1989

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) _ A woman choked back tears to plead for leniency so she could take care of her baby, but judges sentenced her to 10 years in prison for her role in an attempted jail escape and murder-for-hire scheme.

A manacled Vondia Clary, 33, spent 15 minutes behind bars in Huntington’s federal courthouse with her infant daughter, Reba Montana Clary, after two judges denied her request to remain free to raise her baby.

U.S. District Judge Charles Haden II on Tuesday sentenced Clary to 10 years and 11 months for her role in an attempted escape and killing scheme masterminded by John P. McCoy, who was convicted of planning West Virginia’s largest bank robbery, killing an accomplice and counterfeiting $800,000.

District Judge Robert Staker gave Clary a concurrent term of four years and three months on cocaine distribution charges.

″It is for that child that I make these sentences run concurrently,″ Staker said. He also said he would recommend Clary go to a federal prison near her hometown of Huntington so her daughter can visit frequently.

Sentenced along with Clary were her boyfriend, Robert Nance, and McCoy’s son, Kennis. The three and John McCoy were convicted Aug. 1.

Prosecutors say the four plotted to kill, among others, federal witnesses lined up to testify against John McCoy, 43, of Slater’s Branch, Ky.

McCoy was sentenced this summer to life in prison plus 43 years for robbing the Matewan National Bank’s Kermit branch of $286,000, counterfeiting, killing a federal witness and plotting other slayings and his escape from the Cabell County Jail, where he was being held pending trial.

Their hired gun turned informant. No one escaped and no witnesses were injured.

Nance, 43, met McCoy in jail, where he was being held on cocaine distribution charges. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined $10,000 for the escape plot and murder-for-hire scheme. He also received 10 years on the drug charges.

Kennis McCoy, 22, was sentenced to nine years and three months. Haden said it wasn’t necessary for the younger McCoy to inherit the sins of his father.

″I think you were sorely used by your father,″ the judge said. ″That’s something he’ll have to live with.″

″He loved his father too much,″ defense attorney Joseph Martorella said. ″That’s a heck of an epitaph as he faces the penitentiary, but he loved his father too much.″

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