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Accused shooter has been in trouble

January 03, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG - The man accused of fatally shooting a Hagerstown man Wednesday morning threatened to stab someone over the summer and spent time incarcerated several years ago for a robbery charge, according to court records.

Richard Lamont Pannell Jr., 24, is accused of shooting 32-year-old Charles W. Wingfield once in the neck around 4 a.m. on New Year's Day.

Pannell was charged with murder in connection with the shooting, as well as kidnapping. He remains in Eastern Regional Jail without bail.

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An investigator in the case, Lt. K.C. Bohrer of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department, said the shooting may have arisen from a robbery attempt.

Wingfield was found next to his pickup truck outside of the apartment complex and flown to a Virginia hospital where he was pronounced dead at 10:25 a.m. Wednesday.

No money was taken from Wingfield's wallet because he had his cash hidden in a sock, Bohrer said. However, police found Wingfield's driver's license in a pair of pants Pannell allegedly wore during the shooting, Bohrer said.

Pannell has been in and out of several Berkeley County courthouses in the last few years. Pannell told police that three days before the shooting, he returned to Martinsburg from Columbus, Ohio, Bohrer said.

Charges filed against Pannell since 1997 include armed robbery, assault, DUI, public intoxication and failure to appear in court.

The assault charge stemmed from a March 7, 2002, encounter between Pannell and another man in the Department of Health and Human Resources lobby. The victim, Joseph Tomlin, previously had given information to police that helped convict Pannell, according to court records. Details on that were not available.

When Pannell tried to shake hands with Tomlin, Tomlin refused. A woman with Pannell called Tomlin a "narc" and "snitch," according to court records.

After Tomlin refused to shake hands, Pannell reportedly said, "You took six and a half months of my life and you won't shake my hand?"

Pannell then said, "When I'm stabbing you six and a half times I'll be taking from your life," records show.

Pannell pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to serve 20 days in Eastern Regional Jail.

In 1997, Pannell pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit armed robbery. He and several others allegedly robbed what is now Sunny's One Stop, a gas station and convenience store on North Queen Street, on Jan. 13, 1997. Pannell was 18 years old at the time.

He was sentenced to serve six months to two years in the Anthony Correctional Center in Neola, W.Va., a facility for young offenders.

Upon his release, Pannell was ordered to serve five years of probation, according to circuit court records.

Pannell violated his probation, however, and spent time in prison, according to Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely. Games-Neely was not sure how much time Pannell spent at either the juvenile facility or prison.

In Martinsburg's Municipal Court, Pannell has faced two counts of public intoxication, one count of giving false information to an emergency official and several counts of failure to appear in court. For one count of failure to appear, he was sentenced to serve 15 days in jail. For the other charges, Pannell was ordered to pay a fine, but in several instances, the fine was not imposed.

In June 2002, police charged Pannell with drunken driving after a state trooper spotted him swerving on Airport Road. Pannell failed several field sobriety tests and registered a .197 on the Intoxilyzer test, records show. He pleaded guilty to DUI and spent 24 hours in jail.

An hour or less after Wednesday's shooting, Pannell allegedly held a woman at gunpoint, demanding that she act as a lookout while he "nosed around" the crime scene, Bohrer said. The woman was not acquainted with Pannell, Bohrer said.

At some point during the night, Pannell walked to a woman's apartment on the southeast side of Martinsburg, where he had clothes in a duffel bag, Bohrer said. He changed clothes, but police recovered the original clothes worn during the shooting, along with Wingfield's driver's license, Bohrer said.

Pannell reportedly told several people that he shot someone, and he admitted to police that he shot Wingfield, records show.

Police found the gun used in the shooting underneath a car at the apartment complex, Bohrer said.

Pannell did not have a fixed address, Bohrer said.

Both murder and kidnapping carry a sentence of up to life in prison, upon conviction.

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