Wednesday, May 25, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...5-26-'11
- It took the jury only about two hours Wednesday afternoon to convict Brandon Sherrod of first degree murder in the November 2009 shooting death of James Williams. The jury recommended mercy for Sherrod. Co-defendant Michael Serrano testified Wednesday that he went with Sherrod to shoot up Williams' house, but said there was no plan to kill anybody. He said Sherrod acted on his own. Serrano plead guilty to wanton endangerment.
- Michael Robinson, 20, of Huntington was arrested and charged with malicious wounding Wednesday afternoon following a shooting at 17th Street and 12th Avenue which sent Justin Anderson, 25, of Huntington, to Cabell Huntington Hospital after being shot in the arm. Police say it appears the shooting took place after a brief altercation.
- The state Supreme Court has sided with Kanawha Circuit Judge Charles King in a divorce dispute with his ex-wife, Judy King, who claimed she was entitled to more of Charles King's pension than she had begun receiving following the divorce. Charles and Judy King divorced in 2003 after 32 years of marriage. Judy King, the longtime director of human resources for the city of Charleston, began receiving a monthly check for $961 from the Consolidated Public Retirement Board when the judge retired in 2008. She believed she should be receiving $2,547 a month. Charles King, who could choose to draw a straight life annuity or a reduced amount with the full benefit continuing for a surviving spouse, chose the reduced amount and named his current wife, Phyllis Slack King, as his beneficiary. As a result, his ex-wife was set to receive less.
- A group of Massey Energy shareholders filed a petition with the state Supreme Court Wednesday seeking to stop the $8.5 billion transaction that would make Massey part of Alpha Natural Resources. Documents in a similar case, made public Tuesday by a Delaware judge, show that Alpha CEO Kevin Crutchfield was prepared to provide Massey's now-retired and controversial chief executive, Don Blankenship, with a job as an Alpha consultant. At the same time, the records show that experts who examined Massey as part of Alpha's "due diligence" for the transaction found major problems with Massey's safety practices and the company's management. In the West Virginia and Delaware lawsuits, certain Massey shareholder groups are seeking to block the Alpha buyout as part of an effort to hold Massey executives and board members responsible for the Upper Big Branch disaster. Documents in the Delaware case allege the deadly explosion has reduced Massey's economic value by more than $1 billion, along with more than $165 million in out-of-pocket costs and $320 million in lost coal revenues. Massey and Alpha shareholders are scheduled to vote on the merger on Wednesday, June 1st.
- On May 2nd, ICG announced it had reached an agreement to be acquired by St. Louis-based Arch Coal for $3.4 billion. Between May 9th and 16th, ICG shareholders filed four lawsuits against ICG and Arch in West Virginia, arguing the pending sale undervalued ICG stock. Monday, individuals who filed those lawsuits asked Putnam County Circuit Judge Phillip Stowers to consolidate them into one legal action, including one lawsuit originally filed in Kanawha County that was quickly transferred to Putnam County. The shareholders are also asking that their legal action be expanded into a class action suit to represent the financial interests of all ICG shareholders. In two different legal petitions filed in Delaware, ICG lawyers asked that the lawsuits be transferred to that state, since ICG is formally incorporated there. The individuals who filed the four lawsuits in West Virginia want Stowers to keep the cases in West Virginia. Hearings originally scheduled to be held in Putnam County Circuit Court this week were postponed.
- The Utility Workers Union of America, which represents employees in Huntington, Weston and Braxton County, has filed a complaint with the state Public Service Commission asking state regulators to block West Virginia American Water's plans to lay off 31 employees, saying the job cuts will have a "severe and adverse" affect on water quality and service. West Virginia American Water spokeswoman Laura Jordan says the company remains fully committed to maintaining its regulatory obligations, even with a reduced workforce. A recent PSC decision denied $10 million of a $15.4 million rate hike request. West Virginia American Water wanted a 13 percent rate increase, but the PSC granted a 4.4 percent hike.
- Charleston firefighter 35 year old Paul Edward Young, Jr. is facing a felony charge after being accused of selling Suboxone to a confidential informant working with the Metro Drug Unit. Young, a 12 year veteran of the fire department, has been placed on administrative leave, with pay, pending the outcome of the investigation. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine if convicted.
- Antwaun M. Winbush, 30, of Columbus, has pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute cocaine base. Winbush admitted that, in October, he was riding to Fayette County to deliver cocaine base to someone when police stopped him in the parking lot of Drifter’s Bar in Glen Jean, where agents seized 113 grams of cocaine base from a hidden compartment in the center of the car’s dashboard. Winbush said at the time that he put the drugs in the compartment. The person he was delivering it to turned out to be an informant for the Oak Hill Police Department and Fayette County Sheriff’s Department. Winbush faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine when sentenced August 25th.
- Troy McKnight, 31, of Columbus, faces up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine after pleading guilty to distribution of crack cocaine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. McKnight admitted that in September 2010, he arranged a drug transaction over the phone with an undercover agent who was working at Smokin' Aces in Huntington where he delivered and sold 11 cellophane bags containing an eighth of an ounce of crack to the agent for $2,035 in cash. In December 2010, McKnight sold two undercover agents a 9-mm pistol and a .22 caliber pistol for $375 and received an additional $100 for arranging the transaction. At the time of these transactions, McKnight had been convicted in the Court of Common Pleas, Franklin County, Ohio, of felony attempted robbery and possession of cocaine. McKnight is set to be sentenced on October 17th.
- Harold Arthur Thompson, 21, of Culloden, in Cabell County, pleaded guilty Tuesday to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, admitting that in October 2010, he carried a Winchester 20 gauge shotgun into a Huntington store and sold it to an undercover agent. Thompson had been convicted of felony aiding and abetting the stealing and unlawfully taking and carrying away of firearms from the premises of a person who was licensed to engage in the business of importing, manufacturing and dealing firearms. Thompson was convicted of the felony two days before selling the gun to the agent. Thompson faces up to 30 years in prison and a $500,000 fine when sentenced on October 11, 2011. Thompson also pleaded guilty to using a printer to make fake $20 and $100 bills and passing them at local businesses.
- Forty-two year old David Allen Carter of Lesage has pleaded guilty to participating in a contraband cigarette conspiracy, admitting he and co-conspirators bought about 273,800 contraband cigarettes, resulting in a $7,529.50 state tax loss. Carter faces up to five years in prison when sentenced September 6th.
Links to this post: