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Charge against man upgraded to murder in shooting death

September 24, 2005|by CANDICE BOSLEY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

A man charged Thursday with accessory before the fact of murder was charged on Friday with one count of first-degree murder in connection with the August shooting of an Inwood woman in her bedroom, according to court records.

Timothy Charles Odell, 25, now has faced three different charges since he was taken into police custody last month after the death of Debbie Bivens, 46.

On Aug. 26, Odell was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. On Thursday, that charge was dismissed and prosecutors instead charged him with accessory before the fact of murder.

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Assistant Prosecutor Joshua Henline said that a decision was made by Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely to upgrade the charge to first-degree murder.

On Friday, Odell was arraigned on the charge of murder, along with a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.

Police allege Odell agreed to participate in the Aug. 22 murder of Bivens in exchange for $5,000. He said a man named Benny Brookman offered him the money, according to court records.

Odell told police that he used a hammer to break a window in Bivens' bedroom, but that another man - whose name Odell said he did not know - fired the gunshot, police said.

Bivens, who lived in the Camelot subdivision off W.Va. 51, was found slumped against a closet door in her bedroom. A bedroom window was broken and investigators have said they believe she was shot in her upper chest when she got out of bed after hearing the glass break.

An arrest warrant also was issued last month charging Benjamin Frank Brookman, 47, of Salisbury, Md., with accessory before the fact of murder.

Brookman, with whom Bivens had had a personal and business relationship, committed suicide a week after Bivens' body was found, police have said.

Brookman left behind a 13-page suicide letter, which was reviewed by Games-Neely before the charge of murder was filed, Henline said.

Conviction on a charge of first-degree murder carries a sentence of up to life in prison, while conviction on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder carries a sentence of one to five years in prison.

Odell is being held in Eastern Regional Jail without bail.

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