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Probable cause found for murder charges

September 23, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

A black T-shirt for the band Insane Clown Posse that Wade Warren Painter was wearing when he was arraigned on two counts of murder last week belonged to one of the men Painter is charged with killing, according to court testimony Thursday.

Cpl. Brendan Hall, a criminal investigator with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department, was the only witness to testify during a preliminary hearing for Painter, 25, of 385 Pond Lane, Martinsburg.

Painter is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of Raymond White Jr., 64, of 1734 Paynes Ford Road, Martinsburg, and his son, Raymond White IV, 20, of the same address.

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Police believe both were killed Sept. 14, sometime between 3 a.m. and 10 a.m. A family friend found both bodies that day, according to police.

Hall testified during the hour-long hearing that one of the men's bodies was found on the home's kitchen floor, with a blanket covering the body and with two rugs covering the man's head. The other body was found on the floor of the home's den and was covered by a tarp or car cover, Hall said.

White IV had been shot once above his right ear and also had swelling above his eye. His father, White Jr., was severely beaten, Hall said.

"It looked like he put up quite a fight before he died," Hall testified.

Police later learned that White Jr. had been shot twice. Sheriff Randy Smith said last week that White Jr.'s wounds from being beaten were so severe that officers could not determine initially whether he had been shot.

Evidence of a struggle was present in the home, Hall testified.

Blood was found on the ceiling, on a couch, on a chair, on walls and on curtains. Tables had been overturned and broken glass was found on the floor, Hall testified.

Painter was taken into police custody a day after the men's bodies were found. He had been spotted driving a Mazda MX-6 that belonged to the younger White and had been stolen from the home, and he used the older White's credit card to buy motor oil for the car, police have said.

Bloody clothing was found at Painter's home, along with guns, jewelry, home movies and other items stolen from the victims' home, police said.

Shoes and clothes belonging to the younger White were taken, including the T-shirt that Painter was wearing when he was charged with murder.

A backpack that belonged to Painter was found outside of the victims' house near a tree. The backpack contained a PlayStation 2, video games and DVDs, Hall said.

When police first interviewed Painter, "he was extremely nervous" and had scratches on his arm that appeared to be fingernail scratches, Hall testified.

During a lively cross-examination by Painter's attorney, public defender Tom Stanley, Stanley repeatedly asked Hall about physical evidence.

"What evidence do you have that my client is a double murderer?" he asked at one point.

Assistant Prosecutor Joshua Henline frequently objected to Stanley's questions, arguing that a preliminary hearing is used only to determine whether enough probable cause exists to forward a case to Circuit Court for review by a grand jury.

Magistrate Harry Snow ended the hearing by finding enough probable cause to move the charges forward.

Painter did not speak during the hearing. He wore a bullet-proof vest beneath his jail-issued orange shirt and watched Hall attentively as he testified.

He smiled and waved at family members as he was led into the courtroom. He turned and watched when his girlfriend - a potential witness who gave police permission to search the apartment she shared with Painter - was asked to leave the courtroom.

A possible motive for the killings has not been released.

"The state is still investigating all possibilities," Henline said.

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