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5 indicted on charges of murder

May 16, 2000|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Berkeley County grand jury on Tuesday indicted five people on murder charges in three separate cases.

One case involves the murder of 20-year-old Vatressa Miller of Hedgesville, W.Va., whom police say was beaten to death with an ax handle last July.

Keyston J. West, 23, of Charlotte, N.C.; Casey Michelle Holt, 25, of Inwood, W.Va.; and Andrew Charles Jackson, 21, of Martinsburg, were each indicted on one count of murder on Tuesday in connection with Miller's death.

Jackson was also charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a license.

Authorities have alleged that West - who also has an Arlington, Texas, address listed in court records - Holt and Jackson killed Miller to protect the operation of a crack cocaine ring.

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The three defendants are simultaneously facing federal charges of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and attempting to further a criminal enterprise by killing Miller.

In the federal case, the death penalty could be imposed if they are convicted. The maximum penalty for the state murder charge is life in prison.

Two other defendants have pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with the case. Vernel Michelle Newell, 29, of 100 Cottage Road, Martinsburg, and Kirk Leon Grantham, 22, of Avery Street, Martinsburg, pleaded guilty to one count apiece of distributing crack cocaine and are awaiting sentencing next month.

They are not charged with killing Miller, whose body was found in the woods in the Opequon subdivision on Aug. 10.

In an unrelated case, the grand jury also indicted Jerry Lee Hess Jr., 40, of Hedgesville, W.Va., on one count of murder.

Hess is accused of killing 46-year-old Deborah Lee Grove of Martinsburg in October after they left a bar, according to court records.

Authorities said Grove was beaten and stabbed. Her body was found in an orchard along Arden Nollville Road.

Court records state that Hess and Grove went to the orchard around 4:30 a.m. to have sex, but after disrobing Hess expressed guilt because he is married. He then allegedly struck Grove in the face and blacked out, leaving in his car for his Cedar Lane home, court records state.

The grand jury also indicted Roger Dale Linaburg, 31, of Austin Mobile Home Park, Martinsburg, of murder in another case.

In February, inside Linaburg's trailer, Linaburg allegedly shot Benjamin Leo Lowrey, 32, once in the chest and once in the side of the stomach with a .22-caliber rifle, according to police.

Lowrey was an acquaintance of Linaburg's.

A state trooper testified at a hearing last month that Linaburg told police at the scene of the crime, "I'm the shooter. Go ahead and put the cuffs on me."

Linaburg was also indicted on one count of possessing a firearm despite having a felony conviction.

Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said that the murder defendants will be arraigned on May 22, along with others who are indicted this week.

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