WeTV revisits 1986 Seneca Falls Kwik Fill Murder
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
WeTV, as part of the network's new series, "Women Behind Bars", aired an episode on Tuesday, May 12, 2010 with a Seneca Falls, NY connection.
The series interviewed Holly Coomber, the woman serving a life sentence in connection with the 1986 murder of a Seneca Falls Kwik Fill convenience store clerk.
The family of Donna Guerriri, the victim of the '86 murder, has been vocally upset with WeTV for giving Holly Coomber the spotlight and featuring a convicted murderer on their show. Some argue that the show portrays hardened criminals as sympathetic victims themselves.
On Wednesday, Donna Guerriri's daughter Jennifer made the following post on Facebook:
Jennifer Guerrir: The real question is" Does she find OUR stories sympathetic?" Im Donna Guerriri's daughter and I think that she can rot in jail and I would love to go and visit her and be the one cring while shes watches me and hears my side. What about ME and my BROTHER? We will never get to kiss her again or say I LOVE YOU. What about her grandaughter Haylee she'll never be called grandma?
The topic of this episode has also been the subject of debate at the Seneca County Forum of our Online Community Forum here at FingerLakes1.com. Click here to read the discussion or to post your own comments.
Below is the bio of Holly Coomber posted at the WeTV, "Women Behind Bars" website.
Charge: first-degree murder; first degree robbery; first degree assault
Sentence: life plus 5 years; 12 ˝ to 25 years
Prison: Georgia Women’s Correctional Institution, Arrendale State Prison; Bedford Hills Correctional Facility
Holly was born in upstate New York in 1969 and was adopted by the Coomber family at 18 months old. She lived in Newark and was a self-proclaimed tomboy. Holly claims that she was physically abused by her mother and sexually abused by her brother, although none of the incidents of alleged abuse was ever reported to authorities. The young teen acted out by starting fights at school and lighting her house on fire; her behavior landed her in a home for troubled youth. She ran away on several occasions, and was eventually brought in by authorities after kicking in the window of a police car. In the summer of 1984, the 15-year-old was ordered into foster care. After two short placements, she was sent to live with William and Francis Allen. Within a month of living at the Allen home, Holly needed medical treatment for a prior knee injury. It was then, she claims, that William Allen assaulted her for the first time. Allen does admit to having an inappropriate sexual relationship with his foster daughter, but asserts it did not happen until later in their relationship.
When Holly was 16, the Coombers signed over legal custody of Holly to the Allens. Mrs. Allen left the marriage, and William took Holly to Missouri where he got a job working for the gas company. The sexual abuse continued and within six months of moving to Missouri, Holly became pregnant. On June 16, 1986, the 17-year-old gave birth to a baby girl. Against her wishes, she gave her daughter up for adoption. That October, Holly and William left Missouri and headed east. During their road trip, Holly says the sexual assaults against her became more violent.
After weeks on the road, money started to dry up and William came up with a plan to score some quick cash by robbing convenience stores. On October 19, 1986, William and Holly robbed the Jiffy Convenience Store in Brunswick, Georgia; William fatally shot the clerk. Then, in Seneca Falls, New York, at the Kwik Fill Convenience Store, the couple again robbed the store with William fatally shooting the clerk.
William and Holly were ultimately apprehended in Georgia and charged with armed robbery and murder of the convenience store clerk in Georgia. The two also faced six counts of murder, robbery and possession of a firearm for killing the clerk in New York. Holly testified against William in Georgia as part of a plea deal. William was given the death penalty, although the sentence was later overturned due to a legal error during the trial. Holly was sentenced to life in prison for felony murder plus 5 years for the possession of a weapon during the commission of a felony.
Holly was sent to New York to face charges in the murder of the second store clerk. The prosecution maintained that Holly was a willing participant. She pled guilty to armed robbery and she was sentenced to 12 ˝ years to 25 years. Her sentences were to run consecutively. William was found guilty and sentenced to 37 ˝ years to life for the murder of a clerk in New York plus a consecutive sentence of 12 ˝ to 25 years on the robbery counts.
In May 1996, a week before his second trial in Georgia was set to begin, William pled guilty to murder and armed robbery in the death of the Georgia store clerk. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences and will never be eligible for parole. Following William’s New York trial, Holly returned to Georgia to serve her first sentence. She was paroled and then sent to New York to serve her second sentence of 12 1/2 to 25 years.
The families of the clerks are still coming to grips with their loss.
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