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Man pleads guilty in death of W.Va. girl

November 30, 1999|By TARA REILLY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. ? A man charged in the death of a 14-year-old Gerrardstown, W.Va., girl pleaded guilty Friday to murdering her in her home.

Speaking in a low tone, Roger Dwayne Smith, 25, pleaded guilty before Berkeley County Circuit Judge David Sanders to felony murder in the Oct. 13, 2005, death of Miana Stewart. Smith pleaded without a plea bargain on the table.

Smith also pleaded guilty to four other felonies and a misdemeanor.

Smith faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole on the felony murder conviction. A jury will decide next week whether Smith will receive mercy in his sentence, which would make him eligible for parole after 15 years.

"I truly, truly am sorry," Smith said, while wearing orange prison clothes and shackled at the wrists and ankles. A tattoo of the number "four" was visible on the back of his upper left arm.

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Smith said he "caused a lot of hurt and grief that can't be undone."

Smith told the judge he entered the residence and killed Miana. When her mother, Mary Stewart, arrived home, he hit her with a baseball bat, then ran from the home.

Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said Miana was "bound, tied, gagged and strangled." She was found tied to a weightlifting bench in the basement, according to court records.

Mary Stewart also was tied up and taken into the basement, police said. She was able to free herself and run to a neighbor's house for help, police said. When police arrived about 15 minutes later, Smith was seen running from the back of the Stewart home. He had blood on his clothes and items that belonged to the family in his possession, police said.

Games-Neely said that Mary Stewart was struck in the head three times, resulting in a fractured skull and internal head injuries. She also received injuries to her hands, Games-Neely said.

In addition to the felony murder guilty plea, Smith pleaded guilty to possession of a stolen vehicle, malicious wounding, attempted murder and robbery ? all felonies. He also pleaded guilty to fleeing from a police officer, a misdemeanor.

Randy Stewart, Miana's father, said the family did not support any type of plea bargain for Smith.

"He's going to try to manipulate the jury," said Stewart of the fact that a jury will decide whether Smith should receive mercy.

Although Smith pleaded guilty, Stewart said he felt little relief.

Mary Stewart said the plea will prevent her from reliving in a trial what occurred on Oct. 13, 2005.

A jury will be picked from a pool of about 100 people beginning Tuesday at 9 a.m. at the Berkeley County Courthouse. Once a jury is selected, Games-Neely anticipates a decision on whether Smith will receive mercy to take two or three days.

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