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Shooting victim dies

April 09, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg man died Thursday morning, a day after he was shot twice in the head outside Berkeley Garden Apartments.

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Kevin Smith, 22, was pronounced dead at 10:15 a.m. at Fairfax Inova Hospital in Virginia, according to police.

His death turned the shooting case into a homicide investigation, according to Lt. Kenneth LeMaster of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office.

Smith's body would be turned over to Virginia authorities for an autopsy to retrieve the two expended bullets and to determine exact cause of death, said LeMaster.

A 17-year-old Berkeley Garden resident charged with reckless endangerment and malicious wounding remained in the Eastern Regional Juvenile Detention Center on South Queen Street Thursday.

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A hearing had been scheduled for the defendant Thursday afternoon, but was delayed until today, according to Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely.

At the hearing today in Berkeley County Magistrate Court, Games-Neely said she plans to file paperwork that will upgrade the charge to murder. Games-Neely said she will consider trying the 17-year-old, whose identity has not been made public, as an adult.

"It's a strong possibility that will happen," said Games-Neely.

Smith was shot following an argument between several people outside an apartment building. Two people were with the teenager charged in the shooting, and investigators found one of them Thursday and obtained a statement, LeMaster said.

The person has not been charged, and LeMaster would not reveal details of the statement. Police were still looking for the third party, LeMaster said.

Police said determining what happened is difficult because there are different accounts from people who were in the area.

"We're probably going to be working on this for weeks. You have to piecemeal it looking at the different things," LeMaster said.

Tisha Newman, who had broken off a relationship with Smith but remained good friends with him, walked out the door of her apartment when gunfire rang out across the street at 1:22 p.m.

"I just saw him fall in front of me," Newman said, breaking down at times.

"Kevin never bothered nobody. I guess he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," she said.

Newman said she believes there was no reason behind the shooting.

"Believe me, it wasn't that important," said LeMaster.

Newman said she went inside and called 911 after the shooting. When she came back outside, someone had carried Smith across the street to where she was and laid him down, Newman said.

Newman said those involved in the shooting have been in the area before. Police had said they believe Smith was acquainted with his assailant.

Newman said she met Smith in 1996 after he moved here from Oxon Hill, Md. Smith originally was from North Carolina, but his mother later moved to Oxon Hill, said Newman. His father still lives in North Carolina, Newman said.

Smith had a close relationship with his mother, Newman said.

"He was going to be the one to take care of her when she got older. He was just so sweet and nice," said Newman.

Smith loved children, and he often played basketball with youngsters in the area, including Newman's four children, she said.

One Berkeley Garden resident said the apartment complex has been plagued with drug dealing. LeMaster, however, said the department gets no more calls from that area than from any area where there are high concentrations of people.

Thursday afternoon, several people were outside on their porches at the apartment complex behind Berkeley Plaza shopping center and youngsters played in grassy areas around the buildings.

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