Tamburo sentenced to life with mercy
Circuit Judge Gina Groh sentenced Stephen J. Tamburo III to be “incarcerated for the rest of your natural life with a binding of mercy” at his sentencing hearing on Monday, February 7 in the Morgan County Circuit Court.
Tamburo, 40, pleaded guilty on December 3, 2010 to first degree murder of his father, Stephen J. Tamburo, Jr. at their home on Shanghai Road. Tamburo said he shot his father after a dispute on December 7, 2008.
The father was reported missing to state police by relatives on December 24, 2008.
A body was discovered by a mushroom hunter in the Sleepy Creek wildlife area near the Berkeley/Morgan County line on April 25, 2009. The body was positively identified in July by the state medical examiner as that of the elder Tamburo. The cause of death was ruled a homicide.
On July 27, 2009 a warrant for murder was issued in Morgan County for Tamburo’s arrest.
U.S. Marshals arrested Tamburo at a drug rehabilitation center in Miami, Florida on August 28, 2009. He was extradited and transported to Morgan County where he was arraigned in Magistrate Court on September 15.
Tamburo and the victim’s sister, Rosemary Martin, both gave statements before the court. In their statements, each painted a vastly different image of the deceased Tamburo.
Tamburo, shackled, in an orange prison jumpsuit, stood between his attorneys and read from several hand written pages.
He apologized to his mother and a friend he identified as Charles Butler, but said he wasn’t seeking sympathy for what he had done.
Tamburo said between the years of 1985 through 1992 he suffered both physical and emotional abuse from a father who had four failed marriages due to drinking and violence.
Tamburo said in 1987 his father was upset about his dog and pointed a gun at him and the dog. Tamburo said his father told him he would have no problem shooting both of them.
After living in Florida for a number of years, Tamburo said he was contacted by his father who asked him to move back to Berkeley Springs and live with him in his retirement home. He promised to leave the home to his son.
Tamburo said he returned to Berkeley Springs, moved in with his father and took a job at a veterinary hospital in Inwood.
Tamburo claimed it wasn’t long before his father returned to the “same patterns of violence, drinking and obsession with guns” he had known in his teenage years. He said, “I was suffering from a tightening grip of anxiety and started drinking and taking drugs.”
Tamburo said by 2008 his father “was completely crazy.” He said during Thanksgiving his father took a shot at him in the yard.
“By December I didn’t know whether he was going to kill himself or me. I decided not to be a victim anymore.” Tamburo then said he took his father’s life on December 7, 2008. “It was the worst day of my life, ending two lives, one by death and one by total devastation,” he said.
“No matter what, no one has the right to take the life of another,” Tamburo concluded.
Martin gave a written statement to Probation Officer Danielle Hofe to read to the court. The statement said in part “Our father and uncle” was a decent man who served his country in Vietnam with the Marine Corps and had the upmost respect for the law.
The statement said the elder Tamburo wanted his son to be happy, but the son’s history of lying, drinking and drugs made it difficult.
“He bought you a truck, gave you a home and supported you financially and you turned on him in his hour of need,” the statement said.
The statement said the younger Tamburo discarded his father’s body “in the woods like discarding trash” and claimed he had never taken responsibility for his actions and called him both “selfish and despicable.”
“A large part of our lives is now missing. If only we could hear his infectious laugh again,” the statement concluded.
Prosecutor Debra McLauglin said she did not think those investigating the case would agree with the defendant’s portrayal of the victim.
“I don’t think the family’s version should be lost to the court,” McLauglin said.
Groh then pronounced the life sentence with mercy, meaning Tamburo will be eligible for probation in 15 years.