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Trial begins in W.Va. slaying

February 08, 2006|By ROBERT SNYDER

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

What is not in dispute is that Roynal "Ronnie" Lee Walker fired the shot that killed Arthur Doakes on the night of March 23, 2005.

A witness testified Tuesday on the opening day of Walker's murder trial in Berkeley County Circuit Court that Doakes had gone to Walker's house before midnight that night looking for drugs or money and was shot by Walker after an altercation at his front door.

"All I could see was fire popping out of the top of the gun," Cheri Marchesani testified in the trial of Walker, 48, of Martinsburg.

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Marchesani said she had accompanied Doakes and her boyfriend, Wendell Turner, to Baker Heights Apartments that night hoping to secure crack cocaine, when Walker stepped out of his apartment and fired four shots at Doakes, including three as he stood over him after he had fallen to the ground.

"I just seen him hit the ground and I was just in shock to think I couldn't do nothing for him but stand there," Marchesani said, sobbing. "I couldn't do nothing for him."

Doakes, who was shot once in the chest, and in the stomach and both legs, died at the scene.

The weapon, which police and experts testified was a .22-caliber long rifle pistol, was later recovered in another apartment. Ammunition matching the gun's caliber was discovered by police investigators in Walker's apartment, sheriff's department criminal investigator K.C. Bohrer testified Tuesday.

In opening remarks before the jury, which consisted of nine men and three women, defense attorney Heidi Myers told jurors that Walker was justified in shooting Doakes, of Ranson, W.Va.

"What did he do? He defended himself ... we're not going to disagree that he shot that gun," Myers told jurors, arguing the county's sheriff's department failed to complete its investigation into the shooting. "You may have done the same thing Ron did that night."

Myers, who reminded Marchesani that she was under oath, also noted that her account differed from Turner's, who earlier claimed he had no knowledge of why the trio had driven that night from Ranson to Walker's Martinsburg apartment.

Marchesani said Turner knew why they had gone to Walker's apartment.

"Our mission that night was to get high together," said Marchesani, who told Myers she knew Walker and had purchased drugs from him at his home previously.

But Myers challenged Marchesani's account and questioned sheriff's deputies who testified Tuesday about the absence of drugs in Walker's apartment.

Under cross-examination by Myers, Bohrer said neither drugs nor drug paraphernalia were found in the apartment.

Bohrer said Walker told him he shot Doakes because he had been harassing him, adding that Walker said a gun had previously been stolen from his apartment. Bohrer said there was no record of a stolen gun.

Walker, who sat mostly expressionless through much of the day, admitted the night of the shooting that he was a recovering drug addict, but did not sell drugs, according to testimony given by Cpl. Brendan Hall, who said he assisted Bohrer with the investigation.

Under questioning from Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely, Bohrer testified that Walker told him he had been drug-free about nine years, but that he had been suffering from tooth pain and had been taking an antibiotic.

In her opening statement to the jury, Games-Neely said Walker, who knew Doakes as "the junkyard man," owed him money and dismissed Walker's claim of self-defense.

"He couldn't give any reason why he opened the door other than that he was frightened," said Games-Neely, adding that once in police custody Walker both admitted and denied shooting Doakes.

The trial resumes today at 9 a.m.

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