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W.Va. grand jury indicts man in slaying

February 19, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Hedgesville, W.Va., man has been indicted on a charge of murder in the Feb. 4 shooting death of a Tomahawk, W.Va., church volunteer, according to Berkeley County Circuit Court records.

A Berkeley County grand jury handed down the charge against Banner Cornell Catlett, 21, during its deliberations this week, according to court records.

Catlett has had a long history of alcohol and drug abuse, and once was admitted to a mental hospital after he became psychotic and violent, according to court records.

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The victim, 29-year-old Andrew Mason, had tried to help Catlett cope with his personal problems and help him understand the importance of Christian values, said Louis Whitford, pastor of the Hedgesville Assembly of God, where Mason had worked as a volunteer.

Catlett told police that he broke into Mason's mobile home near Tomahawk by kicking in the front door, according to court testimony. Mason stumbled out of his bedroom and was startled by Catlett's presence, according to testimony.

Catlett told police that just before he shot Mason, he warned the victim that he was facing "a river of death," according to testimony. Mason was shot twice in the head with a .22-caliber rifle, according to court records.

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