Donna Somerville

General Information


Volunteer Nurse - Hospice of the Rapidan

Hospice Nurse

Recent News | Wife denies charge in taped calls

Somerville seemed unkempt prior to deathORANGE - Donna Somerville told two friends in phone conversations around the one-year anniversary of her husband's death that she did not kill him, secretly taped phone calls revealed Wednesday. Donna Somerville, 51, faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder in Hamilton A. Somerville Jr.'s death, which has been deemed the result of "combined drug poisoning." The taped home and cell phone conversations played in court Wednesday occurred between Oct. 24 and Oct. 30, 2002, as subpoenas for a special grand jury in the case were being distributed. In an Oct. 28, 2002, call with dancing partner Daniel Hager, Donna Somerville said investigators had no evidence linking her to the killing. As the heir to her husband's estate, Donna Somerville inherited the sprawling Mount Athos property and about $5.6 million in assets. In an Oct. 24 call, Donna advised a friend who had been subpoenaed by the special grand jury to get an attorney. "I didn't do this," she told Shannon Clore Abbs."We're back to square one. … The girls are never going to quit." Donna Somerville was referring to one of Hamilton Somerville's daughters, and did so again in a later conversation, calling Alita Somerville Miller the girl who "started this mess."Prosecutors say Donna Somerville had access to the drugs found in her husband's body through her work as a volunteer nurse for Hospice of the Rapidan.Defense attorneys assert that he either died from heart disease, suicide or a self-administered overdose.They plan to introduce evidence that he was taking oxycodone, codeine and morphine four to six months before his death. Officials originally thought the 57-year-old heavy smoker died in November 2001 of accidental choking but a toxicology report showed lethal doses of oxycodone, codeine and morphine.Donna Somerville was indicted on Valentine's Day 2003. A local auctioneer testified Wednesday that he got a call from Donna Somerville on Oct. 31, 2001, asking about an estate sale at Mount Athos to be held after the first of the year.She wanted to sell cattle, jewelry, antiques and a coin collection and didn't want to publicize the sale, David Nicholson testified. Circuit Judge Daniel R. Bouton did not allow his testimony, however, because prosecutors could not prove Donna Somerville was actually the caller.

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Snapped : Profiles

Donna Somerville: Former hospice nurse Donna Somerville had finally arrived.After three failed marriages, she fell in love with Hamilton Somerville.Donna had nursed his mother and wife as they died, and when Ham needed a shoulder, she was there.They spent their days at Mt. Athos, his Virginia estate, enjoying the luxury that money brings.In 2001, just after their tenth wedding anniversary, Donna called 911.Ham had stopped breathing.Paramedics were unable to revive him.Donna wanted Ham cremated as quickly as possible, but her stepdaughters convinced the district attorney to perform an autopsy first.A blood test revealed a toxic mix of drugs in Ham's system.Suspicion immediately turned on wealthy widow Donna, who as a hospice nurse had access to those drugs.At trial, prosecutors claimed that Ham was about to divorce Donna and murder was the only way she could hold onto her husband's money.The judge ruled that the prosecutors had simply not presented enough evidence to prove Donna killed Ham.She was acquitted of all charges and returned to Mt. Athos a free woman.

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Somerville trial under way

The long-anticipated murder trial of Donna Jean Somerville opened yesterday in the tiny, historic town of Orange.Donna Somerville, who is charged with first-degree murder, would have had access to narcotic drugs through her work as a nurse with Hospice of the Rapidan, he said.Problems in her marriage, and the danger that her many other romantic relationships would be discovered motivated Donna Somerville to kill, Robinette said.Somerville had the opportunity to commit the murder, he said, because she had been alone with her husband all day and her daughter was spending the night with friends. Defense attorney Samuel P. Higginbotham II told the court that much of what Robinette said was inaccurate, and that the special prosecutor had not said that Donna Somerville gave her husband drugs. The autopsy showed that there was not a sufficient quantity of drugs in Somerville's system to cause his death, Higginbotham said.Yesterday, the prosecution called 13 witnesses who testified that Ham and Donna Somerville spent that day at home, Ham was considering couples counseling and was not feeling well, Donna went to a nearby store and bought milk, and their youngest daughter asked to spend the night with a friend.Further testimony documented Donna Somerville's call to 911.The court day ended with testimony from sheriff's deputies and rescue squad personnel.Investigators immediately suspected foul play after Somerville's death, but Donna Somerville wasn't indicted until Valentine's Day 2003.Freed on $300,000 bond, she has continued to live at the couple's Mount Athos estate, once owned by James Madison's family.

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