A 27-year-old woman in Maryland has been sentenced to prison for the killing of her 92-year-old roommate and longtime family friend. The victim, Nancy Ann Frankel, was a renowned sculptor who had practiced her craft for over seven decades. The defendant, Julia Birch, admitted to strangling Frankel inside their shared home before staging the body and spraying it with perfume. The court records reveal that Birch has been sentenced to 40 years in prison, with 23 years of the term suspended. She pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and will also have supervised probation and community service hours after her release.
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge John M. Maloney handed down the sentence on Thursday, taking into account the severity of the crime. Birch’s guilty plea in March to the charge of second-degree murder for strangling Frankel played a significant role in the sentencing decision. The court records indicate that Birch will spend less than two decades behind bars. Additionally, she will be required to serve a period of supervised probation and complete community service as part of her sentence.
The incident took place on July 28, 2021, in Kensington, Maryland, when authorities responded to a call reporting a possible homicide. Upon arrival, Birch immediately confessed to killing Frankel. The evidence recovered from the crime scene corroborated Birch’s account of the events leading to Frankel’s death. According to Birch’s statement to investigators, she initially attempted to suffocate Frankel by placing a plastic bag over her head. When Frankel managed to poke a hole in the bag, Birch resorted to strangling her. After the murder, Birch called 911 and admitted to the crime. She then proceeded to stage Frankel’s body, arranging it to appear more presentable by folding her arms, placing a pillow under her head, and spraying perfume on the remains.
Nancy Ann Frankel, the victim, was a highly regarded sculptor who had dedicated her life to her art. Her work spanned seven decades and encompassed various media, including wood, Plexiglas, Hydrocal, design cast, and steel.
Julia Birch, the defendant, was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder following an examination by a state doctor. The doctor concluded that Birch was experiencing psychotic symptoms at the time of the murder but emphasized that she still understood the wrongfulness of her actions and could control her behavior in accordance with the law.