Thirty Years For Failed Robbery

WHEELING – Ohio County Circuit Judge James Mazzone sentenced Melody Fisher to 30 years in prison Wednesday for her role in the attempted robbery of the Elm Grove Pharmacy.

Mazzone also reminded her that she was solely responsible for the circumstance in which she found herself.

Fisher, 41, of Beech Bottom pleaded guilty last month to charges of first-degree robbery and conspiracy. Mazzone sentenced Fisher to 30 years on the robbery charge and one to five years on the conspiracy charge. The judge ordered those sentences to be served concurrently.

Fisher said she accepted responsibility for her actions but maintained she was not guilty of the crimes. She apologized to the victims that were present in the courtroom Tuesday and their families, as well as her own family.

May 25, 2012, was Stacy Hess’ daughter’s 17th birthday, and the pharmacy technician was 45 minutes from leaving work and joining her family when a masked Kevin Walnoha pointed a loaded gun at her and demanded she forfeit prescription pills. The trauma from the crime has caused Hess to undergo therapy, she disclosed. She said she is now wary and suspicious of customers, and recalls the robbery attempt every day.

Hess’ daughter, Chelsea Hess, said she has since made her mother promise to never again go to work on her birthday.

Ohio County Prosecutor Scott Smith lauded the actions of pharmacist Anthony Martino, who spotted the robbery attempt on the monitor in his office, then armed himself. Smith clasped his hands and pointed his index fingers like a gun while he mimicked Martino firing two warning shots into the office floor. The business owner then exited his office and fatally shot Walnoha.

“Mr. Martino came out of his office and risked his life for other people,” Smith said. “In short, Mr. Martino is a hero in every sense of the word – a true, real-life hero.”

Smith also called defense attorney Edward Gillison’s suggestion that Martino shot Walnoha while he was fleeing the store “simply outrageous.”

Martino’s wife, Michelle Martino, recalled the six harrowing hours that passed between the time she was notified of the crime and when she finally saw her husband. She said his personality has undergone a drastic change since the crime, adding that he rarely smiles or laughs easily.

Fisher’s adoptive parents, as well as her husband, Hans Fisher Sr., expressed their skepticism about Fisher’s culpability in the crime. They all doubted that she was capable of what the prosecution alleged.

Gillison said Fisher’s family members have been victimized by the case, as well. Gillison pointed out that Fisher’s 4-year-old son would go through childhood without his mother. Her teenage daughter graduates from high school in two weeks, the girl added, and said that day will be the worst of her young life.

“People have a right to be safe,” Mazzone declared at the end of the hearing. “People should not have to get up in the morning and wonder if they’re going to make it home for dinner. People should not have to wonder if they’re going to go to work and look down the barrel of a gun.”