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W.Va. man faces manslaughter charges in older man's death

January 02, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg man has been charged with manslaughter in connection with the beating of an older man who later died.

Police obtained a warrant charging James Clark Owens Jr., 42, of Pennsylvania Avenue, with one misdemeanor count of involuntary manslaughter.

Owens was in Eastern Regional Jail Tuesday night, waiting to be arraigned by a magistrate.

The fight took place Nov. 10 around lunch time in the Martinsburg Wal-Mart parking lot, Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said. It was filmed by video surveillance cameras, she said.

Earlier in the day, Owens and the victim, Ernest Stevens, had argued verbally, part of a series of on-going confrontations between the two, Games-Neely said. She said Owens and Stevens argued about a variety of topics, including money, business and women.

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After the parking lot fight, Stevens was taken to City Hospital. He had a laceration above his eye, a bloody nose and a fractured hip, according to a press release from the Martinsburg Police Department. He remained in the hospital, and died Dec. 3.

An autopsy was done, and Games-Neely said Stevens suffered a heart attack. Even though Stevens' death was most likely unintentional, police were able to press charges because Stevens' death stemmed from the beating, Games-Neely said.

Owens turned himself in to police Tuesday, according to the release.

A conviction of involuntary manslaughter carries a penalty of up to one year in jail.

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