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W.Va. man pleads guilty to crack distribution

April 05, 2000|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A man charged with being part of an Eastern Panhandle drug ring pleaded guilty Tuesday to distribution of cocaine.

Three members of the alleged ring have been charged with conspiring to kill 20-year-old Vatressa Maria Miller, whose body was found Aug. 10, 1999, near the Greystone on the Opequon subdivision.

Kirk Leon Grantham, 22, of Avery Street, Martinsburg, is one of two members not charged in Miller's death.

Grantham faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million when he is sentenced on June 25, according to Fawn Thomas, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Grantham pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Martinsburg to selling .87 grams of crack cocaine on May 13, 1999, for $150, as outlined in an indictment.

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He was originally named in five counts in a 13-count indictment.

Three of the five defendants - Casey Michelle Holt, 25, of 94-T Apple Way, Inwood, W.Va.; Keyston J. West, 23, of Charlotte, N.C.; and Andrew Charles Jackson, 21, of 728 Winchester Ave., Martinsburg - have been charged with beating Miller to death in July to protect the alleged ring.

Holt, West and Jackson are scheduled to go on trial April 18.

A fifth defendant, Vernel Michelle Newell, 29, of 100 Cottage Road, Martinsburg, pleaded guilty in federal court last month to one count of distributing crack cocaine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas O. Mucklow called Cpl. Ted Snyder of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department to the witness stand during Tuesday's plea hearing for Grantham.

Snyder, a member of the Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force, testified he was working undercover when he arranged to buy crack cocaine from Newell near Martin Luther King Jr. Park. He said Newell left and came back with Grantham.

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