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Police try to connect clues in man's death on U.S. 11

October 12, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Police are trying to determine whether the death of a man who was found lying in the middle of U.S. 11 south of Martinsburg Sunday morning was connected to a nearly simultaneous call about gunshots being fired at an adjacent bar, an investigator with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department said Monday evening.

"We can't link them, but considering they happened at the same time we still have to explore the possibility that they were related," said Lt. K.C. Bohrer.

Carlton Edward Robinson, 25, of 119 Church St., Martinsburg, was taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg and then flown to Washington (D.C.) Hospital Center, where he died, police said.

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Robinson was found lying in the northbound lane of U.S. 11 in front of Penn Liquors. A shattered pool cue with blood on it was found next to him, police said.

"(We) don't know if that's related to Robinson being hit," Bohrer said of the pool cue. "Was it a weapon? Maybe."

Bohrer said that investigators cannot rule out the possibility that the cue just happened to be in the road and got blood on it when Robinson was hit.

Bohrer said Robinson had head and facial trauma, "road rash" and abrasions on his legs and back - all injuries that are consistent with being hit by a car.

An X-ray done on Robinson showed no sign of any bullets, but police have not determined for sure that Robinson was not shot, Bohrer said.

An autopsy was to be performed. Bohrer was not sure where the autopsy was to be done but said it could be in Washington. He did not have any results by Monday night.

If a medical examiner determines that Robinson was hit by a car, an expert in accident reconstruction will examine the scene, Bohrer said.

Deputies found Robinson either at the same time or shortly after they were dispatched to Champs Nightclub for a call that gunshots had been fired at 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Bohrer said.

When Deputy William Christian responded to the bar, he found a "chaotic scene," police said. A fight broke out and a deer was hit by a car within sight of the officers, adding to the tension, said Kenneth Lemaster, chief deputy of the sheriff's department.

Three spent .45-caliber shell casings were found outside the front door of the bar, Bohrer said.

Witnesses said the person or persons who fired the gun left in a large, gold-colored sport utility vehicle. No vehicle description was given of the car that hit Robinson and Bohrer said it's possible nobody witnessed that collision.

He asked for help from the public.

"There's way too many questions," Bohrer said. "Any lead in this instance would not be too small."

Among the questions facing investigators are: Who was with Robinson at the bar and what was he doing before he was struck?, Bohrer said.

The nightclub and the liquor store are within sight of one another, separated by a boarded-up house and a cleaning business.

Both are less than a mile south of the intersection of U.S. 11, W.Va. 45 and W.Va. 9.

Bohrer and Christian are investigating.

Anyone with information can call the sheriff's department at 304-267-7000 or the anonymous Berkeley County Crime Solvers line at 304-267-4999.

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