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Four indicted on murder charges in Berkeley Co.

February 22, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The man charged in the slaying of a 14-year-old Gerrardstown, W.Va., girl last fall was one of four men indicted by a Berkeley County grand jury Tuesday.

Grand jurors returned a seven-count indictment against Roger Dwayne Smith, 24, of Martinsburg, who was charged last year in the death of Miana Stewart. The girl was found bound, gagged and tied to a weightlifting bench in the basement of her Gerrardstown home on Oct. 13.

Grand jury proceedings are conducted behind closed doors. Jurors listen to a prosecutor and prosecution witnesses before deciding whether to indict a suspect. Neither the defendant nor his attorney are present, and an indictment is not considered a sign of guilt.

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Smith, who last year waived his right to a preliminary hearing, was indicted on one count of felony murder in the death of the teen, as well as on charges of attempted murder and malicious wounding for allegedly attacking Miana's mother, Mary Stewart, with a baseball bat after she arrived at the family's home that afternoon.

According to earlier reports, Smith was seen running from the back of the Stewarts' home by police, who arrived following a call for help after Stewart freed herself and sought help at a neighbor's house. Smith had blood on his clothes and carried items that belonged to the Stewart family, police have said.

Smith, who was convicted in Virginia of abduction and attempted rape in a case involving a child, and had been charged in Berkeley County with failure to register as a sex offender, was also indicted on one felony count each of daytime burglary, first-degree robbery and possession of a stolen vehicle in the case. He was also indicted on a charge of fleeing from a police officer, a misdemeanor.

Also indicted Tuesday was Wade Warren Painter, 25, of Martinsburg, on two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths last September of Raymond White Jr., 64, and his son, 20-year-old Raymond White IV, both of Martinsburg. White IV had been shot once above his right ear and also had swelling above his eye. His father, White Jr., was severely beaten, and shot twice, according to police testimony and later statements. Both bodies were found covered with rugs and blankets.

Painter was taken into police custody a day after the men's bodies were found after being spotted driving a Mazda MX-6 that belonged to the younger White. Painter also was indicted on one count each of possession of a stolen vehicle, grand larceny, daytime burglary and petit larceny. Items including guns, jewelry and home movies from the slain men's home were found at Painter's house, and clothing was taken from the slain men's home, including a T-shirt Painter later wore to his preliminary hearing, according to an earlier report.

Grand jurors also returned a one-count murder indictment against Edward Charles Grimes, 24, in the July 2005 shooting death of 30-year-old Ronald L. Kidrick, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., at a Martinsburg motel.

A two-count indictment also was returned by grand jurors against Timothy C. Odell, 26, in the shooting death last year in her home of Debbie Bivens of Inwood, W.Va.

Odell was indicted on one count each of murder and conspiracy to commit murder for allegedly agreeing to kill the 46-year-old woman for $5,000 at the behest of Benjamin Brookman, of Salisbury, Md.

Brookman, who committed suicide a week after Bivens' body was discovered, had a personal and business relationship with the woman, according to an earlier police report.

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