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Birdsall gets 40 years in wife's slaying

October 07, 1998

Birdsall sentencedBy DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

FILE PHOTO




MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Clyde Birdsall, the Berkeley County man who was found guilty of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of his wife, was sentenced to 40 years in prison Tuesday, according to court officials.

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Berkeley County Circuit Court Judge Thomas W. Steptoe Jr. handed down the maximum sentence to Birdsall at the request of Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely.

The least amount of prison time Birdsall could have faced was 10 years, officials said.

Birdsall was found guilty in August in the death of Erika Birdsall, whose body was found March 7, 1997, stuffed inside a sofa behind the H-Mart convenience store along Winchester Avenue.

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Erika Birdsall had been stabbed 13 times in the chest and stomach.

Games-Neely had said she would consider trying to put the 58-year-old Birdsall behind bars for the rest of his life as a repeat offender. She said Birdsall's two prior felony convictions would allow her to file a recidivist charge that could lead to life in prison.

But legal complications involving the other cases made it impossible to get a life sentence, said Games-Neely.

Birdsall is now serving a five-year federal sentence for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. After Birdsall completes that sentence, he will be turned over to state correctional authorities to serve the 40-year prison term, said Games-Neely.

Birdsall, of Inwood, had been charged with first-degree murder. Games-Neely said evidence in the case made premeditation hard to prove.

The prosecution said the sofa found with the body had been in the Birdsall home because marks left by the sofa legs on the carpet in the home were consistent with those on the sofa that contained the body.

Birdsall, who is hearing impaired, used a computer during the trial to read testimony. Birdsall showed little reaction when he was convicted, and he wore his wedding ring throughout the trial.

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