Murderess pleads to life sentence
by MAC OVERTON
Mar 02, 2014 | 2094 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
or Photos / 
Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby<br>
SARAH HASLAM, second from left, pleads to life in prison. Others, from left are her attorneys, David Larison and Mac Cobb, and District Attorney Billy Byrd.
or Photos / Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
SARAH HASLAM, second from left, pleads to life in prison. Others, from left are her attorneys, David Larison and Mac Cobb, and District Attorney Billy Byrd.
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A second person has pled guilty and accepted life in prison without parole in the death of Ronnie Joe “RJ” Gammage, 27, of Longview.

Had their cases gone to trial, they could have faced the death penalty.

Sarah Hassam, 21, entered a plea in 115th District Court in Gilmer Thursday.

One of her codefendants, Daniel Jones, accepted a plea of life without parole.

Miss Haslam, like Jones, also gave up her right to appeal.

Gammage, who was described as mentally handicapped, had been forcibly abducted in Longview, then tortured.

Gammage’s beaten and burned body was found Dec. 19 near the intersection of Martin Lane and Mockingbird Road in southeastern Upshur County.

A brother, sister and the mother of Gammage made emotional victim impact statements after the sentencing Thursday.

During the statements, the murderer betrayed no regret, staring coldly at each speaker.

Brother Charles Ramsey Jr. told Miss Haslam, who appeared with her hands and feet shackled and wearing a tan Upshur County Jail uniform, that in the bank video, “you were laughing and having a good old time. You act like nothing mattered. You had not conscience. You still have no conscience.

“I want to see you live that moment over and over again,” he said. “He is in a much-better place today. You do not deserve to live among us. You’ll be put away forever.”

Ramsey told her, “You extorted money from him, took advantage of him, took his life. You stole that (his life) from all of us.”

He told her “you deserve death,” but that he was satisfied that “justice has done what it’s done.”

He told her she would never be able to bully or take advantage of anyone again, but would be the one bullied.

“You’ll be the one suffering all your natural life, and then spend eternity in hell.”

Sister Angela Dees said that “my little brother found it easy to make friends,” but that “those he thought were his friends—you violated his trust.”

Mrs. Dees said that “never in my life have I felt hatrid, but I have nothing but pure hatrid for you. You did the unthinkable, and you will burn in hell for all eternity. But first you’ll be locked up like the cruel animal you are.”

Mother Frankie Gammage, her voice often choked with tears, challenged the murderer to “look at him (a large picture of RJ was on display as the impact statements were made). I hate you. You are a demon. You make me sick. You look at people so mean. You look like the devil. How would your parents feel if something happened to you like happened to my son?

“You have no remorse, you no good piece of trash,” she said. “You’ll go to hell and burn and burn and burn.”

Most seating on one side of the courtroom was filled with Gammage’s friends and family.

A smaller number, presumably friends and family of Miss Haslam, were on the other side, including the family’s priest.

Byrd prosecuted the case. Miss Haslam was represented by David Larison of Longview and Mac Cobb of Mt. Pleasant.

Miss Haslam, then 20, and Daniel Jones, 19, of Longview were arrested Dec. 19 and charged with aggravated kidnapping and capital murder.

Longview police reports at the time said that they led authorities to Gammage’s body, and that one had cut Gammage’s throat to kill him.

The pair had been arrested after authorities released a surveillance video from the drive-thru at Gilmer National Bank, where they tried to cash a $400 check on Gammage’s account there on Dec. 4. The request was refused by a teller, based on insufficient funds.

At the time, a warrant was issued for the third suspect, Andrew Conrad Norwine, 21.

Gammage had been in the bank and made a withdrawal shortly before they tried to cash the check on his account, police said.

Norwine, 21, of Arlington was arrested by military police at Fort Polk, La., about 1 a.m. Christmas Day and turned over to the Vernon Parish, La., Sheriff’s Office on the outstanding Upshur County capital murder warrant. He was a soldier assigned to Fort Polk. He was held there under $1 million bond, awaiting extradition to Texas.

According to Longview probable cause warrants, the trio slashed a tire on Gammage’s pickup while it was parked at a Longview restaurant, then tricked him into accepting a ride, allegedly to get a tire for his truck.

Arrest affidavits said that Gammaged was beaten and murdered before suspects attempted to burn and hide his body at the Upshur County location.

The Gilmer police were involved in the investigation at Gilmer National Bank and Upshur County deputies went with Longview police to the site was the body was located.

At Thursday’s pleading, Byrd entered seven exhibits, containing several hundred pages of discovery.

Norwine remains in the Upshur County Jail under $1.3 million bond.

About the Norwine case, Byrd would only say “now we start on Norwine.”
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