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W.Va. shooting trial to begin today

November 14, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County Circuit Court Judge David H. Sanders asked attorneys handling the murder trial of Edward Charles Grimes to "bury the hatchet" for the proceedings set to begin this morning after a testy pretrial hearing Monday.

Grimes, 24, is charged in the early-morning shooting death of Ronald Lee Kidrick of Shepherdstown, W.Va., on July 30, 2005, outside the Relax Inn off Winchester Avenue.

Jury selection from a pool of 50 residents is expected to begin at 9 a.m. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gregory V. Smith told Sanders he expected the trial to last three to four days.

Jurors are expected to be taken to the site of the shooting before the presentation of evidence in the case, which was rescheduled in August because two witnesses were not available to testify.

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Sanders ruled Monday that he would not allow autopsy photographs of the victim, who was shot in the head, to be presented to the jury.

The 23rd Judicial Circuit judge also denied testimony that would reveal crack cocaine was in Kidrick's pocket when he was shot. Toxicology reports that show Kidrick's blood contained a significant amount of alcohol (.230) and evidence of cocaine use within hours of the shooting will be allowed. Sanders ruled the actual drug found in his pocket was not directly relevant to the confrontation and only had a "marginal relationship."

The intoxication evidence would have a "tendency to show who may have been the aggressor," Sanders said.

Sanders ruled that any evidence of flight by Grimes after the shooting will be allowed, acknowledging defense arguments that their client was fearful that another person who had taken Kidrick to the hotel was still there when the shooting happened.

In prior hearings held in the case, defense attorneys Homer Speaker and co-counsel Steven A. Greenbaum made arguments asserting their client shot Kidrick in self-defense.

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 serving a fraction of a possible 12-year sentence under terms of the plea agreement.

Several friends and family members attended Monday's proceedings, which didn't end until after 6 p.m. and not before Sanders told the attorneys not to address one another after more than one exchange was less than pleasant.

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