W.Va. felony murder case forwarded to circuit court

March 06, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

Testimony during a preliminary hearing Friday for a woman charged with felony murder in a drug overdose case indicated that she bought heroin from someone inside a trailer a few hours before an 18-year-old took too much and died in a Martinsburg motel room.

The hearing was the first for Nicole Kees, 20, of Bunker Hill, W.Va., who faces one count of felony murder in connection with the death of Jashua Eugene Frocke.

After the 40-minute hearing, Magistrate Harry Snow found enough probable cause to forward the case to Circuit Court for possible grand jury indictment.


Kees is being held in Eastern Regional Jail without bail.

Two witnesses testified during the hearing - West Virginia State Police Trooper R.T. Dyroff, who investigated the case, and county medical examiner David Brining.

Dyroff said he became involved on the morning on Jan. 13, when an employee of the Krista Lite motel found a body in room 22. Frocke, whose body was found face-down on the floor, had a lighter in his hand, and needles and a burned spoon in his pocket. All of the items are associated with heroin use, Dyroff said.

After finding the body, Dyroff began tracking down all of the others who had been in the motel room on the night of Jan. 12. Along with Kees, three others also were with Frocke that night and all admitted to using heroin, Dyroff said.

Records state that when Kees was taken into custody Jan. 21, she told Dyroff that she had purchased the heroin and had given half to Frocke. She said she did not inject the heroin into Frocke, but that another person in the room did.

Nobody else has been charged in connection with Frocke's death.

After reading aloud Kees' brief statement in court, Dyroff read aloud a much longer statement by Aaron C. Polkey, who had been in the motel room. Dyroff did not give Polkey's age or address.

Polkey said he drove Kees and Frocke to a trailer on Specks Run Road, off W.Va. 51. When the two came out of the trailer they "seemed really doped up," Polkey said in the statement. Polkey said he believed that was where Kees bought the heroin. Just before that, he said, he had driven her to two banks, where she withdrew several hundred dollars.

After getting a room at the motel and ordering Chinese food, the group went to the Martinsburg Mall and Wal-Mart, Polkey said. When they returned to the room, Kees showed Polkey some heroin and said it was a gram, to which Polkey replied that he had never seen such a large amount, according to the statement.

Polkey said he saw Frocke shoot up at least three times and saw Kees shoot up at least twice.

Records state that after Frocke appeared to have fallen asleep, the group noticed that he coughed and made a gasping sound. When Kees checked on him and found he was dead, she said she was going to call 911, but did not because of the drugs, according to records.

Everyone then left, Polkey said.

On cross-examination, Kees' attorney, Craig Manford, tried to pinpoint exactly who lived in the trailer and how much heroin Kees reportedly bought.

A charge of felony murder was filed because the death allegedly occurred during the commission of a felony - distribution of heroin.

Dyroff replied that he does not know everyone who lives in the trailer or exactly how much heroin was purchased. All of the evidence was sent to a laboratory for testing, he said.

Manford also asked whether any of the three statements Dyroff took from Kees were recorded. Dyroff replied that none of them had been.

Brining, who testified briefly about the cause of death, said the level of heroin found in Frocke's body is commonly associated with death.

Kees did not testify and Manford did not call any witnesses. Neither Manford nor Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely made a closing argument.

If Kees is indicted, she could face trial.

Conviction on a charge of felony murder carries a sentence of up to life in prison without parole. West Virginia does not have the death penalty.

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