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Judge agrees to push back murder trial

August 01, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The murder trial of Edward Charles Grimes has been delayed until November in part because two key witnesses were not available to testify, including one man who was shot outside a south Berkeley County club Saturday, attorneys said Monday at a pre-trial hearing.

Grimes, 24, is charged in the July 2005 shooting death of Ronald Lee Kidrick of Shepherdstown, W.Va.

The trial was expected to begin this morning with jury selection, but 23rd Circuit Judge David H. Sanders agreed to reschedule the trial until Nov. 14, after learning "primary" defense witness Gabriel C. "Ziggy" McGuire was injured in the shooting at the Miss Behaven club near Bunker Hill, W.Va. McGuire was in satisfactory condition at Winchester (Va.) Medical Center Monday, Cpl. B.F. Hall said.

Assistant Prosecutor Gregory V. Smith, meanwhile, told Sanders that one of the state's primary witnesses was intentionally making himself unavailable for the proceedings and did not object to defense attorney Homer Speaker's motion to continue the case.

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McGuire, 19, is expected to bolster his client's self-defense claim, Speaker said.

The hearing Monday was to consider a motion by Speaker and co-counsel Steven A. Greenbaum to dismiss the grand jury indictment against Grimes.

Sanders allowed Speaker to question former Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Capt. K.C. Bohrer about his investigation. But he deferred making a ruling on the defense motion, noting he needed to have a copy of the transcript from the Berkeley County Magistrate Court preliminary hearing and statements given by two children of the deceased.

Speaker attempted to poke holes and highlight disparities in previous testimony given by Bohrer about the case, including whether both children actually witnessed the fatal shot being fired at their father outside the Relax Inn off Winchester Avenue in the early hours of July 30.

Smith acknowledged that both children didn't see every part of the shooting and that the youngest child, Trejan, then 6 years old, apparently saw both men pull guns.

That acknowledgment prompted Sanders to ask Smith to repeat it.

Speaker also took issue with notes Bohrer initially took while investigating the shooting, but since destroyed. Bohrer made no apologies, noting he incorporated everything from the notes into his report.

"I'm sure the information relayed to him was made in a very hasty phone call," Bohrer said of the account Monday.

Upon questioning by Speaker about the officer's grand jury testimony, Bohrer acknowledged the statement Grimes gave to police about the shooting did not sound like an admission of murder.

Bohrer added that what Grimes said "could possibly be in his favor."

According to previous testimony, Kidrick was under the influence of alcohol and used cocaine in the hours prior to the July 30 shooting.

The mother of Kidrick's children has testified that Grimes pistol-whipped a friend of hers, who came to the motel earlier that night 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.

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 have been 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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