Fallon woman gets life in shooting death of stepmother

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FALLON - Despite passionate statements from Joanna Marie Plants' family, the Fallon woman was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years for shooting and killing her stepmother, Ginger, in March.

Plants, 18, who cried off and on during testimony at Tuesday's sentencing, showed little emotion as District Judge David Huff announced her sentence.

Plants, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in August, could have received life in prison without parole or 50 years in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years.

Just before the sentencing, Plants addressed the court.

"I am sorry for what I did and wish I could bring my stepmother (back)," she said. "I cared about my stepmom a lot, and I know she loved me, too."

Plants added that she wants to take advantage of the help she will receive in prison and hopes to help other people.

Huff said there is no doubt the tragic case affected numerous families and people.

"I think you have the (opportunity) to make probation after 20 years," he said. "It's up to you."

A concern, Churchill County District Attorney Art Mallory said, was that Plants was not angry with her stepmother when she shot and killed her, but instead was angry with her father.

"We do know Ginger Plants is dead, and it is no fault of hers," he said.

Joanna Plants admitted to shooting her stepmother with a .380-caliber Taurus semi-automatic pistol March 5 after a dispute about caring for the family pets.

Charles Arnold, a brother of Ginger Plants, outlined his sister's life to the court. He said his sister was the type of woman who always wanted to take care of kids and always wanted to be a mother.

Ginger met and married Timothy Plants in the late 1990s. Timothy Plants had six children including his youngest child, Joanna.

Arnold said he knew there were problems in the family, but added his sister was sure she could handle them.

"Ginger always wanted the best for Joanna," he said. "I don't know what happened."

Timothy Plants said his youngest daughter had turned his life upside down because of the killing of his wife of six years.

"Your honor, I don't understand the why," he said, while fighting back tears and looking upwards.

He said he and his late wife had six great years together, and added he has now forgiven his daughter for the crime.

"I was angry. I was hurt. There were days I did not want to get out of bed," he said. "I did not want to talk to my daughter. I did not want to see my daughter, and it was eating me up."

He said Joanna wrote him letters, and he finally visited her at the Churchill County Jail.

"I love Joanna with all my heart. She's my baby," he said.

He said the tragic event brought his family closer together, and mentioned he has lost more than 100 pounds in the last six months.

"There is nothing we can do to bring Ginger back. I am a victim of the crime in more ways than one," Joanna's father said.

"She's got a great heart. She needs help," he said.

Chad Plants, a brother of Joanna, said he loves his sister very much, and believes she has potential.

Under questioning from District Attorney Mallory, he conceded his sister had asked him where she could get a gun to kill their father on the day she killed her stepmother.

Another sister, Martha, said she trusted Joanna with the most important thing in her life, her children, and was never let down.

"She was amazing. I trusted her with my life," she said.

Herbert Plants in his testimony about his granddaughter brought her to tears.

"Charlie, our prayers are with you, and Joanna I forgive you," he said.


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