Pretrial hearing held in 2002 slaying case

September 25, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Issues brought up during a three-hour pretrial hearing Friday for a man charged with shooting his cousin in 2002 included statements made by John Jenkins, a piece of missing evidence and who would sit at the table closest to the jury box.

Jenkins, 37, of Bunker Hill, W.Va., is charged with shooting Steven Cole, 37, four times on April 12, 2002, in or near Jenkins' pickup truck on Goldmiller Road.

Jenkins' trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 5.

The first issue brought up during the hearing concerned a small piece of what appeared to be human tissue found on Jenkins' pants after the shooting, Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said.


Games-Neely said laboratory employees examined the item and found it contained blood. It since has disappeared.

"We have a blank empty envelope," she told Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes. "I can't tell you who's got it."

About half of the hearing was spent discussing several statements Jenkins made to police in the hours following the shooting.

Several deputies with the Frederick County (Va.) Sheriff's Office testified. Police have said that Jenkins drove Cole into Virginia after the shooting.

At an intersection in White Hall, Va., Cole jumped from the truck's cab and started rolling on the ground, screaming that he had been shot. He died a short time later, police said.

Deputy Ricky Brill said that when he arrived at While Hall, Jenkins and another man were standing near Cole. With his shotgun pointed at both men, Brill asked who had shot the man on the ground, he testified.

According to Brill, Jenkins responded, "I guess that's me. I shot him."

Brill testified that he then handcuffed Jenkins and placed him in the back seat of his police cruiser.

Jenkins later told Brill, "I shot him in self-defense" and that he had thrown the gun from his truck, Brill said.

Wilkes ruled that all of those statements can be used at Jenkins' trial.

Wilkes withheld making a ruling on whether other statements are admissible since they were made by Jenkins after an arrest warrant charging him with murder had been issued. When police questioned Jenkins, they did not immediately tell him that Cole had died or that a warrant for his arrest had been issued, according to testimony during the hearing.

Wilkes said he will make a decision after Games-Neely and Jenkins' attorney, Kevin Mills, give him written arguments on the matter.

Mills made several requests during the hearing, including that he and Jenkins be allowed to sit at the attorney table closest to the jury box.

Traditionally, the prosecutor sits there, and Wilkes ruled to keep it that way.

Mills also asked that family members of both Jenkins and Cole sit at least one row back from the front of the courtroom, which Wilkes also declined to enforce.

Jenkins - who was indicted in February 2003 on one count of murder - is free on bond.

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