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Jefferson County man indicted for involuntary manslaughter

September 20, 2000

Jefferson County man indicted for involuntary manslaughter



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A Jefferson County man was indicted on a charge of involuntary manslaughter Tuesday in connection with the January shooting death of his friend at a nearby subdivision, according to court records.

A Jefferson County grand jury handed up the charge against John Michael Weaver.

Earl Payton, 54, died Jan. 31 after being shot in the chest at Weaver's house in the Orchard Hills subdivision near Ranson, police said.

Although it was not clear what led to the shooting, it may have stemmed from an argument over $10 that Payton owed Weaver, according to West Virginia State Police.

In a statement to police, Weaver said he fired a gun into the floor in front of Payton. He told police that he was "just joking around."

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Weaver said he thought there were only two bullets in the gun. He cleared the gun but it fired a second time, police said.

State Police Trooper Aaron Zaltzman said he interviewed a relative of Weaver, who believed the shooting was an accident.

Weaver was initially charged with murder, but was bound over to the next term of the grand jury on a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter following a hearing last February in Jefferson County Magistrate Court.

Payton worked as a dump truck driver until health problems forced him to quit, family members said. He had just moved to Winchester, Va., to live with a girlfriend when he was shot, his sister said.

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