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Jefferson County man dies in shooting

February 01, 2000|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

RANSON, W.Va. - A Jefferson County man died following a Tuesday morning shooting that may have stemmed from a disagreement over $10, according to West Virginia State Police.

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Earl Payton, 54, died at 12:40 p.m. Monday after he was shot in the chest at a friend's house in the Orchard Hills subdivision near Ranson, police said.

John Michael Weaver, 52, described as a long-time friend of Payton's, was charged with murder Tuesday afternoon, according to Jefferson County Magistrate Court records.

Weaver, of 320 Orchard Drive, was arraigned before Magistrate Mary Paul Rissler and was being held in the Eastern Regional Jail near Martinsburg without bond, according to court records.

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Police received a call about the shooting at 11:40 a.m. When Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy Dave Colbert arrived at the house, he was met by Weaver, according to court records.

Payton was lying on the living room floor of Weaver's house and emergency medical crews were treating him, according to Trooper Aaron Zaltzman.

Payton was taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Weaver was taken to the Jefferson County state police detachment in Bardane, W.Va., for questioning. In a statement to police, Weaver said Payton arrived at his house about 10 minutes before the shooting, according to court records.

Although it was not clear what led to the shooting, it may have stemmed from an argument over $10 that Payton owed Weaver, Zaltzman said.

In his statement to police, Weaver said he fired a shot into the floor in front of Payton, but told police that he was "just joking around," court records allege.

Weaver said he thought there were only two bullets in the Raven .25-caliber handgun. He cleared the gun but it fired a second time, according Sgt. S.E. Paugh.

Payton stood up and then fell, according to court records.

The handgun was found at the house. One empty shell casing and two live rounds also were found, according to court records.

Attorneys in the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney's office decided to file the murder charge, Zaltzman said.

"We'll let the grand jury weed it out and make a decision," Zaltzman said.

Payton's body was to be sent today to the state Medical Examiner's office in Morgantown, W.Va., for an autopsy, Zaltzman said.

When Payton was shot, the bullet lodged in his chest, police said.

Orchard Hills is a small subdivision behind the Ranson Square shopping plaza along W.Va. 9. The development is made up of small to medium-sized ranch homes.

"Weirdly enough, it's usually a quiet neighborhood," said Ranson Police Lt. Robbie Roberts.

Delbert King, who lives across the street from Weaver's home, said he didn't know anything was wrong until his street filled up with police cruisers.

King said he had never noticed any problems at Weaver's house.

Several people going into Weaver's house Tuesday afternoon would not talk to a reporter.

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