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Man pleads guilty to Capital Murder, 2015 robbery in Tazewell County

TAZEWELL COUNTY, Va. – (WVVA) – Barry Joe Coleman has entered a guilty plea to the Capital Murder of Nancy Carolyn Smith.

Judge Richard C. Patterson has sentenced Coleman to three life sentences with no possibility of parole, and an additional 28 years to run consecutive.

He’s currently being held at The Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority in Abingdon, Va., and will be transported to a state prison.

Tazewell County Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Lee Dennis says the evidence shows, on December 16, 2015, Coleman showed up to Flanary Storage in Richlands, Va., with the intent of committing robbery.

Smith was an employee at the store and was attacked by Coleman with a knife.

Coleman then ransacked the office before leaving with a cash box and stabbing Smith’s dog, which did survive.

The Richlands Police Department took Coleman into custody, after a resident called police. Coleman was inside of the resident’s bathroom.

Coleman also pled guilty to the Robbery of Smith, Statutory Burglary of Flanary Storage while Armed with a Deadly Weapon, Abduction, Soliciting a Firearm by an Ineligible Person, Possession of Suboxone, a Schedule III Drug, Possession of Controlled Drug Paraphernalia, Cruelty to Animals, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.

‘Evidence shows that on December 16, 2015, Coleman entered Flanary Storage located on Kents Ridge Road in Richlands, Virginia with the intent of committing robbery. COLEMAN attacked Nancy Carolyn Smith, who was 58 at the time and an employee at Flanary Storage, with a large hunting knife. After an intense struggle, COLEMAN overcame Carolyn and subsequently killed her.  COLEMAN then ransacked the office, took the cash box belonging to the business and stabbed Nancy’s small dog, which ultimately survived. Coleman then went to a nearby residence for the purposes of “cleaning up.”  The resident, extremely scared for her and her family’s safety, called law enforcement while he was in her bathroom attempting to shoot up Suboxone and cleaning himself up along with the knife.

Coleman was immediately taken into custody by the Richlands Police Department and video evidence retrieved from Flanary Storage showed Coleman entering the business around 3:54 p.m. and leaving around 4:08 p.m. carrying the cash box.  A customer who stopped to pay his storage rental found Carolyn’s body approximately an hour later.’ Press Statement. 

Statement from Michael Lee Dennis:

I want to thank the family of Nancy Carolyn Smith for their support and patience during this long process. Carolyn’s family and I are satisfied with the outcome of this case.”

  “I also want to express my gratitude to the officers of the Richlands Police Department, Virginia State Police, and Tazewell County Victim/Witness Assistance Program, as well as the citizens who reported the suspicious activity that resulted in the swift arrest of Barry Joe Coleman.”

“While this sentence can never replace the enormous loss Carolyn’s family has to deal with on a daily basis, I hope that knowing Coleman will serve the rest of his life in prison without ever being eligible for parole will offer them some type of justice and peace in this situation.  Everyone who knew Carolyn speaks of what a kind and compassionate person she was and to know that a wonderful person like Carolyn lost her life to such a senseless, selfish act is heartbreaking. The only victim to survive this horrific attack was Carolyn’s beloved Pomeranian, Oliver, who now lives peacefully with Carolyn’s brother.” Dennis

This case was investigated by the Richlands Police Department and the Virginia State Police.

Tazewell County Victim/Witness Assistance Program provided support to the family as well as aiding in receiving veterinary care for the dog.

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