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Trial scheduled to being for W.Va. man charged in cousin's dea

February 25, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The evidence that is presented during next week's trial for a man charged in the fatal shooting of his cousin will determine whether jurors should consider a charge of manslaughter in addition to murder, a judge said Thursday.

John Jenkins Jr., 37, of Bunker Hill, W.Va., was indicted in February 2003 on one count of murder. His cousin, Steven Cole, 37, was shot while in or near Jenkins' pickup truck on April 12, 2002, police have said.

Jenkins' attorney said Thursday he wants jurors to be able to consider charges of first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.

Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said she believes jurors should be able to consider charges of first-degree and second-degree murder.

Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes said he will listen to the evidence and decide what charges the jury can consider.

Jenkins' trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday. A panel of 50 prospective jurors will be whittled down to 12, beginning at 9 a.m.

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Jenkins, who is free on bond, was in court Thursday morning for a pretrial hearing.

Another matter discussed was taking the jury to the scene of the shooting, on Goldmiller Road near the Virginia state line. Jurors should be taken to the scene after all the evidence is presented, so they know what to look for, Wilkes said.

Cole was shot four times, with wounds in several spots of his body, police have said. A .22-caliber revolver was recovered at the shooting scene, police have said.

After the shooting, Cole was placed in the cab of Jenkins' pickup truck and driven to Virginia, police said. At a Virginia intersection, Cole jumped out of the truck, where he rolled on the ground and screamed that he had been shot, police said. He died a short time later.

Jenkins admitted to the shooting hours after it happened and told police his version of what happened, according to police and previous court testimony.

One of the state's witnesses in the case is Dr. Henry Lee, who has testified in several national high-profile trials, including that of O.J. Simpson.

Lee's testimony will be shown to jurors in the form of a previously recorded video-taped presentation.

Jenkins' trial was scheduled for last October, but had to be continued after Games-Neely suffered a serious burn on her leg beforehand.

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