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Sims sentenced to year in jail for friend's slaying

August 27, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg man probably will spend about 28 more days in jail for his July 3 conviction in the stabbing death of a former friend in downtown Martinsburg, the attorney for the man said Monday.

Berkeley County Circuit Judge David Sanders sentenced Thomas Dale Sims Jr., also known as "T.J.," to one year in jail Monday afternoon in connection with the death of Justin Lawson.

Because Sims had already been in jail for 277 days before his conviction, and because he had earned time for good behavior in jail, he only has about 28 days left under his sentence, defense attorney Craig Manford said.

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Sims, who had been free on bond, was taken into custody following his sentencing hearing.

On July 3, a Berkeley County jury found Sims guilty of involuntary manslaughter, a misdemeanor that carries a punishment of up to a year in jail.

Witnesses testified in the trial that a fight between Sims and Lawson started when Lawson began provoking Sims near the intersection of King and Church Streets in downtown Martinsburg on June 8 last year.

Chandra Gray had just broken up with Lawson, 18, of 613 Faulkner Ave., Martinsburg, and began dating Sims, according to testimony.

Lawson was mad when he located Sims, of 426 Winchester Ave., walking near Church Street, witnesses testified. Lawson "whipped around the corner" in a van, got out and began throwing punches at Sims, according to testimony by Gray.

Police believe Sims stabbed Lawson, which caused damage to the right ventricle of his heart.

Vicki Lawson, Lawson's mother, has been critical of the way the Berkeley County Prosecutor's office handled the case. Lawson continued to vent her frustrations over the case during Sims' sentencing Monday.

Lawson said she was "insulted" by Manford's request to Sanders that Sims not be required to spend any more time in jail.

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