A Lancaster County woman was sentenced last week for the murder of her estranged husband in a Strasburg bank parking lot on Valentine’s Day in 2021.
Danielle Bewley, 30, of the 100 block of Locust Lane, East Drumore Township, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole by Lancaster County Judge Merrill Spahn on Jan. 24. Bewley was convicted by Judge Spahn on a first-degree murder charge following a five-day bench trial that concluded Dec. 21.
Bewley shot and killed Mitchell Bewley, 27, of Quarryville, after luring him to the parking lot of PNC Bank in the first block of East Main Street in Strasburg around 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 14, 2021, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s office. The victim was then shot five times in the torso. Lancaster County Coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni determined that the death was caused by gunshot wounds to the body.
Spahn said the law could not correct what had been done by Bewley to her husband before ordering the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for the first-degree murder charge.
“The decisions you’ve made have left nothing but loss, heartache, and despair,” Spahn said to Bewley during her sentencing proceeding.
Assistant District Attorney Christine Wilson prosecuted the case, arguing that “first-degree murder was the only appropriate verdict based on the facts and evidence.”
Wilson presented evidence at the trial that the killing of Bewley was premeditated, while the defense argued the shooting was in self-defense.
Some of the evidence and testimony offered by Wilson included witnesses at the PNC Bank who heard one gunshot and then a rapid succession of gunfire. Testimony from the defendant’s friend and a Ring camera video revealed Bewley went to the friend’s house to pick up her firearm.
Wilson also provided testimony that the defendant made previous threats to kill the victim and evidence of a FaceTime call between Bewley and her friend with the defendant showing a gun “moments before the shooting.” There was also evidence of multiple calls from Bewley to friends and family saying she had shot the victim, including one call in which she said, “He got what he deserved.”
Diamantoni, who conducted the victim’s autopsy, testified all five shots could have been fatal to the victim.
“On Valentine’s Day of 2021, the defendant executed a plan and then executed the victim,” Wilson said. “She had it all planned out. It was specific premeditation. She was lying in wait for the victim to get there.”
Wilson argued Bewley’s claim that she was scared of her husband was inaccurate since she never stopped at a police station or stayed at her friend’s rather than going to meet the victim. Wilson also said Bewley could have “safely retreated from the situation by driving away,” and the inability to safely retreat is needed for a self-defense claim.
“She could not reasonably believe she was in threat of serious bodily injury or death when she lured [the victim] to the PNC Bank to kill him,” Wilson said. “There’s no mistaken belief that her life was in danger. It’s premeditated, first-degree murder.”
The defense asked for a third-degree murder or manslaughter verdict, arguing Bewley’s mental health and “prior victimization made her reasonably believe she was in fear of danger.”
The victim’s father spoke during the proceeding, telling Bewley he “forgave and loved her.”
Strasburg Borough Police Officer Bradley Klunk and Lancaster County Detective Larry Martin filed charges against Bewley, testifying and attending the entire trial. Assistant District Attorney Jessica Collo assisted in the prosecution.