Martinsburg man to enter plea to manslaughter

January 20, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A Martinsburg man charged with murder in connection with the shooting and beating death of a man more than a year ago has agreed to plead no contest to voluntary manslaughter, his attorney and the county's prosecutor said during a court hearing Wednesday afternoon.

Kirk Grantham, 27, was charged with shooting Marvin Redman, 35, once in the stomach and beating him with a gun on June 15, 2003, in the parking lot of Capital Heights, an apartment complex outside of Martinsburg. Redman died as a result of the beating, police said.

If Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes accepts the plea bargain, Grantham would be sentenced to serve three years in prison, but would automatically be released because of the state's "good time" policy. Under that policy, one day is taken off an inmate's sentence for each day he behaves while in custody - which can cut a prison sentence in half.


Grantham has been in jail since June 18, 2003.

After his release, Grantham would be turned over to federal authorities, who have filed a parole violation charge against him, said Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely.

Grantham was on federal parole at the time of the shooting.

On Oct. 31, 2002, U.S. District Court Judge W. Craig Broadwater ordered Grantham to serve three years of supervised release. As terms of his release, Grantham was not allowed to carry a gun or commit any crimes, according to federal court records.

The parole stemmed from a guilty plea Grantham entered in April 2000 to one felony count of distribution of crack cocaine.

Grantham's attorney, Kevin Mills, said after Wednesday's hearing that an agreement was reached with federal authorities on the parole violation charge. He declined to release details, but said the agreement should enable Grantham to be freed from prison in a year or less.

Games-Neely said after the hearing that pleading the charge of murder down to voluntary manslaughter is appropriate.

Two of Grantham's family members - his mother and his girlfriend - were shot by Redman during a struggle, she said.

"That's a very strong self-defense argument," she said, adding that some witnesses changed their stories or refused to testify.

Also, she said, Redman was well-known within the court system.

Before Wednesday's hearing began, an Eastern Regional Jail corrections officer handed Mills two envelopes that contained Redman's jail records. Wilkes said he had had quite a bit of contact with Redman through the court system.

"It's the state's view that this is a voluntary manslaughter case," Games-Neely said.

Wilkes said he did not want to immediately accept the plea bargain because a probation officer had not recommended it or spoken to Redman's family.

He said he wants to know why the state was decreasing a first-degree murder charge to voluntary manslaughter, and adding the shortest possible prison sentence.

"I need to be comfortable with that," he said.

Wilkes said he could hold a follow-up hearing Friday or next week.

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