A Kanawha circuit judge on Monday handed down a 60-year prison sentence for a woman who nearly killed an employee of a gambling parlor in Nitro a little more than a year ago.
Judge Tera Salango told Tiffany Priestley she didn’t “deserve to be in society” after Priestley stabbed Breanna Sargent seven times, slit her throat, and threw a microwave on top of her before leaving Tammy’s Coffee House in Nitro with about $3,000.
Priestley pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree robbery on June 27 in a plea deal with prosecutors. In exchange for Priestley’s guilty plea, Assistant Prosecutor Deb Rusnak agreed to drop charges of malicious assault and attempted murder.
The sentence for first-degree robbery is a minimum of 10 years in prison. Salango’s full sentence for Priestley was 60 years in prison with credit for 371 days she has already served in jail. Salango also ordered Priestley to pay a little more than $2,600 in restitution.
“To have someone like you come in to her business and attack her the way you did, you don’t deserve to be in society,” Salango told Priestley as she handed down her sentence. “The crime you committed is so heinous, you do not deserve to be on the streets for a very long time.”
Sargent recounted in court how she “had to calculate how much time I had to live” while Priestly collected the money and turned off the “Open” sign at Tammy’s Coffee House before leaving the business on Aug. 19, 2018.
Sargent said Priestley told her to quit fighting and that “she had to kill me so I couldn’t tell the police who she was.”
“The only reason I’m still alive is because I fought to live,” Sergeant said. “I remember everything about my attack, and it haunts me in my sleep.
“She thought she had killed me.”
Priestley’s aunt, Tammy Green, said she was shocked when she learned of the charges against Priestley.
“Tiffany isn’t a bad person,” Green said. “I apologize to [Sargent’s family]. She isn’t a bad person like she once was that day.”
When it was her time to speak, Priestley cried and apologized to Sargent’s family.
“I can never imagine the pain I caused her and her family,” Priestley said.
Salango told Priestley that she easily could have killed Sargent that day.
“While you’re standing here crying, I can’t help but think you have little or no remorse for what you did to her,” Salango said.
After Salango handed down her sentence, a man who was sitting with Priestley’s family stood up and said, “She should’ve killed her,” as he walked out of the courtroom. A bailiff escorted the man and Priestley’s family from the courtroom.
Priestley has been incarcerated at South Central Regional Jail since Aug. 20, 2018.