shuddered as her
attorneys whisked her
down a narrow hallway toward a waiting police cruiser.
It wasn't until she
was pushed inside her
attorney's SUV that she
"Just knowing I was going home, I kept thinking ‘it's over, it's over, it's over,'" she
For the past year and a half the possibility of a murder conviction and life sentence hung over Somerville's head.On Tuesday it all ended, and the stress was released in the form of whopping, soaking tears.
In the first moments of her
life as a free woman, Somerville
sobbed all the way to her
sprawling Mount Athos estate, where the nightmare had begun 31 months earlier.
"I think I'm still numb, still in shock," a subdued Somerville said late last week while sitting in a wrought iron chair on a patio at the breathtaking hilltop estate of Mount Athos."It's like being put in a glass bubble.You're not allowed to move, think, feel, be, and you're literally carried every step of the way."
first interview since her
husband's death, Somerville
behavior on the night her
husband died, called strange by prosecutors, her
brief jailhouse experience and possible plans for the future. The 51-year-old registered nurse and former hospice volunteer was cleared in Hamilton A. Somerville Jr.'s death after a judge found "reasonable doubt" that she dosed him with narcotics on Nov. 13, 2001, in their bedroom.
During the nine-day trial, prosecutors painted Somerville
as a greedy second wife who entertained paramours and filled her
husband with prescription painkillers until he
overdosed, because he
was worth more to her
dead than divorced.They said her work as a hospice volunteer gave her access to the oxycodone, morphine and codeine found in his body.
Defense attorneys countered that their client was a caring wife who helplessly witnessed her
"I can still close my eyes and remember reading the words on the search warrant and seeing ‘murder,'" she
said."Then I knew I was in it.It was like a nightmare.It was surreal."
attorneys precluded her
from recounting some specifics about the night Somerville died, citing pending civil suits, Donna Somerville
maintained that she
performed CPR on her
husband before the rescue squad arrived.
"I took food out of his
said."I pulled food out of his
When rescue workers arrived and started resuscitations, she
asked them to stop.She
defends that request, saying both her
brother and father were given CPR for hours and neither survived.She
said the repetitive pounding on a body is "inhumane."
"There's a certain time period that it's critical and it's important to do all you can to save a life but then there's a time that you just have to let the good Lord above take over and give up control," she
said."That's all I was asking."
Officials originally thought Somerville
died from accidental choking but an autopsy revealed heavy doses of opiates. Somerville
did not want an autopsy performed on her
husband's body and asked that he
be cremated the night he
died.One of Hamilton Somerville's daughters intervened and asked for an autopsy.Donna
said Hamilton Somerville, "an extremely Old Testament person," wished to be cremated and did not want an autopsy.
is sitting back in her
chair, wearing a blue ankle-length dress under a tan button-up shirt with a small gold cross around her
neck.In conversation, she
often refers to spirituality.She
mostly speaks in a calm, hushed tone and takes a moment to reflect on the past before carefully answering questions.
Upon Hamilton Somerville's death, Donna
inherited the entire 343-acre Mount Athos, once part of James Madison's Montpelier, and about $5.6 million in financial assets.