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Pendleton case goes to jury

July 24, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A jury of four women and eight men started deliberations Thursday in the trial of a Charles Town, W.Va., man accused of helping another man brutally beat and rob a teenager in 1995.

Ricky V. Pendleton, 22, faces kidnapping, malicious wounding, aggravated robbery and grand larceny charges stemming from the incident.

Kidnapping carries a life sentence unless the jury recommends mercy.

The jury was scheduled to reconvene for deliberations at 9 a.m. today. A lot depends on how they weigh statements Pendleton gave police from a hospital bed following his arrest in New Jersey, attorneys on both sides said during closing arguments Thursday afternoon.

Pendleton's attorney, Keith Wheaton, portrayed his client as medicated, in shock and intimidated by police when he made the statements, which the prosecution used against him in its case.

Ryan B. Frankenberry, 17 when he was attacked on Nov. 28, 1995, was a key witness for Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely.

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Games-Neely portrayed Frankenberry, of Inwood, as a young man looking forward to a bright future in the military when he made the mistake of offering David Wayne Gibson, whom he knew from football, a ride to his supposedly disabled car.

She said Pendleton was a party to the beating Frankenberry received when he pulled over to let Gibson and Pendleton out on Flowing Springs Road.

Frankenberry testified that Gibson put him in a two-armed headlock before dragging him out of the car and beating him, Games-Neely said.

In his statement to New Jersey police, Pendleton said he went to look out for cars, she said.

Between the headlock and the direction the blows were coming from, there had to be more than one person doing the beating, Games-Neely said.

But even if he didn't actively participate, Pendleton was still a party to the crime by serving as a lookout, she said.

Pendleton then sat on Frankenberry as he was driven against his will to an abandoned house near Bakerton Road in Jefferson County, where he was beaten again and left for dead, Games-Neely said.

According to his statement, Pendleton again served as lookout, she said.

In the statement, he said he wasn't concerned when Gibson came out and the two left in Frankenberry's 1987 Porsche for an eight-day trip to New York.

Games-Neely contended that it was actually Pendleton's idea to go to New York, where he had a friend they stayed with.

They were headed back when the car, driven by Gibson, was spotted by New Jersey state troopers, and a chase ensued, Games-Neely said.

The car crashed and Gibson and Pendleton ran into a swamp, where both were shot by New Jersey troopers, Gibson to death and Pendleton in the arm and wrist, she said.

Although Pendleton had been wounded hours before talking to New Jersey police, Games-Neely contended he knew exactly what he was saying and asked jurors to listen to the tapes again themselves.

Wheaton said jurors should take into consideration that Pendleton had been shot only hours before, was likely medicated and was under the stress of having seen his childhood friend shot dead next to him.

He pointed to a gap in the taped statements before Pendleton returned and changed his story, which he claimed resulted from intimidation tactics by police.

Evidence showed other holes in the prosecution's argument, Wheaton claimed.

A New Jersey police officer said he was told by West Virginia police that the boys were headed to the Martinsburg Mall, corroborating Pendleton's claim that that's where they were headed when Gibson asked Frankenberry for a ride.

Pendleton's Chevrolet Blazer never left his driveway, another glitch in the story that it was broken down, Wheaton said.

The state is using Pendleton as a scapegoat for Gibson, who they can't prosecute because he's dead, Wheaton said.

He said his client may have been morally obligated to intervene to stop Gibson, but that he didn't commit a crime by not intervening.

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