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W.Va. murderer asks for new trial

August 09, 2000

W.Va. murderer asks for new trial



By ANDREW SCHOTZ / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A man convicted of murdering a Martinsburg teenager in 1998 has asked the state Supreme Court of Appeals to order a new trial.

Attorney Craig Manford filed a petition of appeal Monday on behalf of Chad Cordell, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence.

On Dec. 2, 1999, a jury found Cordell guilty of voluntary manslaughter, passing up the more serious charge of first-degree murder.

Berkeley County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Wilkes sentenced Cordell on Jan. 28, 2000, to 15 years on the manslaughter charge and an additional five years for the charge of using a firearm in the crime.

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The petition alleges that Wilkes should have directed a verdict acquitting Cordell.

It also says that .22 caliber bullets found in a trash can in Cordell's neighbor's yard should not have been admitted as evidence because the trash can was not within the scope of a search warrant.

Also, Manford contends that Wilkes should not have allowed witnesses' statements about Cordell possessing a gun before the shooting.

"The cumulative weight of all of the errors" during the trial should lead to a new trial, the petition states.

Cordell was convicted of fatally shooting 16-year-old Jose "Joey" DeLoa with a .22-caliber handgun on Dec. 11, 1998 after DeLoa grabbed a $2 pot during a card game.

DeLoa had moved from Omaha, Neb., to live with his father in Martinsburg just two days before he was shot.

Manford had argued for a more lenient sentence during the trial. Wilkes could have imposed a sentence of three to 15 years on the manslaughter charge, according to West Virginia law.

Manford predicted after the sentencing that an appeal was likely.

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