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Judge allows evidence in W.Va. murder case

July 20, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County Circuit judge David H. Sanders on Wednesday refused to exclude evidence that indicates a Shepherdstown, W.Va., man shot in the head outside a Martinsburg-area motel in July 2005, was under the influence of alcohol and had used cocaine within hours of his death.

Sanders also refused to exclude testimony Wednesday by the victim's children and their mother, who testified in a pretrial hearing held for Edward Charles Grimes, the man authorities have charged in the shooting death of Ronald L. Kidrick.

Describing the testimony and drug use as "intrinsic" to the case, Sanders said the evidence was part of "the whole story" and relevant to a jury that could be tasked with deciding Grimes' fate.

A trial for Grimes, 24, is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on Aug. 1, but Sanders first must decide the day before whether to grant defense attorneys Homer A. Speaker and Steven A. Greenbaum's motion to dismiss the grand jury indictment against their client. A hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m.

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Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gregory V. Smith acknowledged evidence that indicated Kidrick's blood contained a significant amount of alcohol (.230) and cocaine use within hours of the July 30 shooting, but argued those facts effectively put the victim on trial.

He also noted Kidrick had no criminal record and no one had spoken "ill" of the 31-year-old.

Speaker countered that the evidence of drug use was relevant and provided support that the victim could have been the aggressor in the early morning encounter outside the Relax Inn off Winchester Avenue.

In their motion to dismiss the indictment, Speaker and Greenbaum cited Berkeley County Medical Examiner David Brining's report, which states in part that "initial reports indicate the deceased pulled a gun on (Grimes) and (Grimes) then pulled a gun and shot the deceased in the head. One of the sons had stated he witnessed the shooting."

"I don't believe the state is going to stipulate that Mr. Kidrick pulled his gun first," Speaker conceded in arguments Wednesday.

Brining later testified he included the initial account of the shooting in his report after having a telephone conversation with then Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Capt. K.C. Bohrer.

Bohrer recently retired from the department and was absent for the hearing Wednesday.

All of Bohrer's notes concerning the case apparently were not provided to Grimes' defense team, which obtained an order from Sanders on Wednesday for them to be shared with the attorneys.

"He doesn't have the notes to give us," Speaker said of the assistant prosecutor.

Aside from being asked about telephone conversations they apparently had the night of the shooting with their father, Kidrick's two young boys, Trejan, 7, and Christopher, 13, testified Wednesday that Grimes, aka "Turk," bought clothes for them and took them swimming.

"Turk took us to the pool like 20 times," the youngest boy said. Their mother, Mary Davis, testified that Grimes had been staying with them in Room 121 of the Relax Inn for more than a month and she recounted how the accused had pistol-whipped a friend of hers, who came to the motel after being pepper sprayed by bouncers at a club.

Kidrick apparently was expected to pick up the children so they could stay with relatives in Shepherdstown within a day or so of the shooting. But he opted to go to the motel that night and was armed, according to testimony and court records.

The children were not asked Wednesday to recount what they may or may not have witnessed regarding the shooting itself.

In May, Sanders declined to accept a guilty plea of second-degree murder submitted by attorneys for Grimes after the victim's family objected to the number of years the accused would have served in prison. Grimes would be eligible for parole after he would have served a fraction of a possible 12-year sentence under terms of the plea agreement.

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