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Martinsburg police investigate second shooting

April 09, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A 17-year-old boy being held in a fatal shooting at Berkeley Garden Apartments was charged with murder Friday as Martinsburg police were investigating another shooting that occurred Thursday night.

A petition was filed in Berkeley County Circuit Court to upgrade the charges against the boy from reckless endangerment and malicious wounding to murder, said Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely.

Officials would not identify the boy because of his age.

He was arraigned in Berkeley County Magistrate Court. His face was covered with clothing as police officers, court officials and friends led him into the closed hearing.

The suspect, being held without bond in the Eastern Regional Juvenile Detention Center, is scheduled to appear before Magistrate Sandy Miller at 2:30 p.m. Monday for a preliminary hearing, said Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Hassan Rasheed.

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It is "almost certain" that the prosecutor's office will file motions to prosecute the boy as an adult, Rasheed said.

Those prosecuted as adults on a murder charge can face up to life in prison. Those charged as juveniles with murder face up to two years in jail, Games-Neely said.

The boy is being held in the death of Kevin Smith, 22, who was shot twice in the head following an argument Wednesday afternoon at Berkeley Garden Apartments. Smith was flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital in Virginia and died there Thursday morning, police said.

Police said it is difficult to determine a motive in the shooting because of conflicting accounts of what happened.

Investigators do not believe the slaying is related to a shooting that occurred Thursday night on Terrace Street. Martinsburg Police said they went to the house about 11:23 p.m. and found Aaron L. Smith, 24, inside with a gunshot wound. Terrace Street is off North Queen Street near a Texaco gas station.

The suspect was described as being a black male, about 6 feet tall and wearing a jean jacket.

Friday afternoon, police were still trying to determine what led up to the shooting. Lt. Donnie Hayes said it appears Smith was "targeted," but he did not elaborate.

Smith, recovering from a gunshot wound to the leg at City Hospital, said he had just arrived home when the incident occurred. Smith said he reached into his back seat to get a six-pack of beer when a man walked up behind him and pointed a chrome-plated gun at his head.

"I knew he wasn't playing because I didn't know this guy," Smith said.

Smith said he started running and the man shot him in the buttocks. The bullet exited his left leg.

Smith said he hopped on one leg toward his mother's house and smashed a glass door with his hand to get in the house.

Smith, who also sustained cuts to his hand, was listed in satisfactory condition Friday night, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Police said it is hard to tell whether there is any single factor that led to two shootings within as many days in Martinsburg. Guns and drugs are often traded, and the violence could be related to such activity, said Lt. Kenny Lemaster of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department, who is investigating the Berkeley Garden shooting.

"I know there's individuals carrying guns more than ever. It just seems to be a trend," said West Virginia State Police Sgt. Jim Humphrey.

Games-Neely said the violent crimes could be connected with the weather getting warmer, Games-Neely said.

"They're not cooped up in houses, so stuff happens," Games-Neely said.

Although there have been several shootings in Berkeley County this year, Wednesday's slaying at Berkeley Garden was the first homicide, Games-Neely said.

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