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W.Va. slaying case goes to grand jury

December 22, 1998|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Berkeley County grand jury will decide if a 22-year-old Martinsburg man will stand trial on charges he killed a 16-year-old boy who allegedly insulted him and won $2 from him in a card game.

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Chad Joseph Cordell is charged with first-degree murder in the December shooting death of Jose "Joey" DeLoa. Police said DeLoa was shot five times in the head and upper body around 11 p.m. on Dec. 11 in front of a home on the 300 block of South Rosemont Avenue in Martinsburg.

Dressed in an orange jumpsuit and wearing manacles on his wrists and ankles, Cordell showed little emotion Monday afternoon when Berkeley County Magistrate Joan V. Bragg said there was probable cause to send the case against Cordell to a grand jury.

Bragg declined a request from Cordell's public defender, Homer Speaker, to get the murder charge reduced to manslaughter. First-degree murder in West Virginia carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

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Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said the grand jury could meet as soon as February.

Monday's preliminary hearing featured testimony from two police investigators and the county's deputy medical examiner as well as the playing of a videotaped statement from a woman who said Cordell told her he had shot someone the night of DeLoa's death.

Martinsburg Police Detective George Swartwood testified that witnesses told police Cordell and DeLoa were part of a group playing cards and video games at a home on Porter Avenue.

Swartwood said witnesses told police Cordell became upset with DeLoa after he began "flossing" him - a slang term for showing someone disrespect.

Cordell allegedly challenged DeLoa to a fight, but DeLoa declined, Swartwood said, adding that witnesses told police they thought the pair had settled their differences and DeLoa and Cordell left the house together.

Swartwood said Cordell told police he left the home by himself, but a videotaped statement by the mother of one of Cordell's friends told a different story.

Kym Hall told police Cordell came by her home at 425 S. Kentucky Ave. around 11 p.m. the night of the shooting and asked for a ride home.

Hall said Cordell told her he had shot a boy who pulled a knife on him and said he didn't know if the boy was dead or alive. A Martinsburg City police officer testified that no weapons were found at the scene of DeLoa's death.

Hall told police Cordell also gave her a handful of ammunition, including shotgun shells and .22-caliber bullets.

Police later recovered a nine-shot .22-caliber pistol in an alley near Hall's home. Police believe the gun was used to shoot DeLoa and said the gun contained five spent rounds and four live cartridges when found.

Berkeley County Deputy Medical Examiner Sandra Brining testified DeLoa had been shot five times, including a potentially fatal shot to the back of his head.

Swartwood said the case is still under investigation and police are awaiting lab results on several items, including the gun. Swartwood said a federal registration trace on the gun is complicated because it was originally purchased almost 40 years ago.

Cordell is being held without bond in the Eastern Regional Jail.

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