Troopers shoot, kill W.Va. man

April 12, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A man who broke into his wife's house and had a knife to her throat was fatally shot by West Virginia State Police troopers early Monday, according to officials.

Michael Bosworth Yurish, 51, of Martinsburg, was shot by two troopers, whose names are not being released.

"Each officer shot him, but how many times? We'll wait for the autopsy (to release that information)," Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said.

Games-Neely said both of the officers were placed on administrative leave with pay while West Virginia State Police Sgt. Dave Boober investigates the shooting.


The shooting happened at 2:48 a.m. at the home of Yurish's estranged wife, Joy Yurish, at 92 Hedrick Ave., Martinsburg, police said.

According to a press release from the State Police, Yurish broke into the house through a back door.

"The suspect obtained a large knife and told the victim that she was going to die tonight. The victim then utilized her domestic violence alarm that was issued to her from the Shenandoah Women's Center. This alarm was then sent to the Berkeley County 911 Center where the 911 dispatcher was able to make contact with the female victim," according to the press release.

"While the victim was on the phone, more threats were made to the victim from the suspect," the release said.

When the troopers arrived, they entered the home through the back, the release said.

"The troopers then observed the male subject moving toward the victim in a threatening manner with the knife and subsequently discharged their duty weapons. The suspect was mortally wounded as a result," the release said.

Games-Neely said that at one point Yurish had the knife to his wife's throat and that he didn't obey commands from the troopers.

"They told him, 'State Police. Put down the knife,'" said Games-Neely, who said she does not know where Yurish got the knife.

She said that preliminary findings indicate the shooting was justified and necessary to save Joy Yurish's life.

The press release said the officers are a 29-year-old trooper with more than five years of experience with the State Police, and a 31-year-old trooper who had been with the department for more than two years.

The press release also indicated that a Family Protection Act order had been obtained against Michael Yurish and that he was free on bond on a charge of attempting to kill his wife in November 2004.

Games-Neely said that Yurish's body was to be taken to the state medical examiner's office in Charleston, W.Va., for an autopsy.

She said the troopers could be placed on "desk duty" and that once the investigation is finished it will be forwarded to her office for review.

The case might be presented to a grand jury, which is not unusual, Games-Neely said.

"That doesn't mean the officers did anything wrong," she said.

Attempted murder charge

Joy Yurish had taken out a Family Protection Act order against her husband on Dec. 1, 2004. As part of the order, which expires May 16, Michael Yurish was not allowed to have any contact with his wife and was not to possess any weapons, according to court records.

The protection order was obtained about two weeks after police allege Yurish tried to strangle his wife with an extension cord, threatened to stab her and told her she would leave her house in a body bag, records state.

West Virginia State Police Cpl. R.T. Dyroff, who investigated that case, indicated in court records that the attack happened on Nov. 17, 2004.

Dyroff said Joy Yurish had filed for divorce about two weeks earlier but had delayed telling her husband because she was afraid of his response.

After she finally told him on Nov. 14, 2004, Yurish called his wife several times during the night and showed up at the house at about 3:30 a.m., demanded to be let inside and tried to talk his wife into not seeking a divorce, records state.

The following day, Joy Yurish came home and spotted her husband hiding under their dining room table. They talked that night and then fell asleep on separate pieces of living room furniture, records state.

On Nov. 17, Joy Yurish returned home from work to find her husband in the house again. When she walked into the bathroom he grabbed her, forced her into their bedroom and threw her onto their bed. He then sat on her chest and asked, "I'm going to ask you one more time, are you going to get a divorce?" records state.

When Yurish's wife said that she was, he picked up an extension cord and said, "Now you're gonna die," records allege.

At that time, Yurish pulled the cord tight around his wife's neck but she was able to get her fingers between the cord and her neck and kicked him, records state.

Yurish then punched his wife and said he planned to knock her out and choke her, police said.

Joy Yurish told police that she bit her husband's leg and asked that she be allowed to get a drink of water. Yurish allowed his wife to go to the kitchen but told her not to try to use the phone or escape, police allege.

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