Jury finds Grimes guilty in shooting death at W.Va. motel

November 17, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A jury of seven women and five men on Thursday took less than three hours to find Edward C. Grimes guilty of second-degree murder in the July 30, 2005, shooting death of Ronald L. Kidrick, 30.

The verdict matches the guilty plea the 24-year-old man entered in May as part of an agreement with the Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney's office, but Grimes' prison sentence now could be more lengthy, officials said.

Except for one clenched fist thrust into the air in apparent satisfaction, reaction to the verdict among friends and family of the victim seated in the courtroom was muted. Minutes earlier, 23rd Judicial Circuit judge David H. Sanders' asked those in the Berkeley County courtroom to respect the jury's decision or face contempt of court charges for any outburst.

"After all of this time, I'm getting some closure," said Kidrick's father, Ronald W. Kidrick, after the jury was excused. "It's not over yet."


Grimes' sentencing hearing was set by Sanders for 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 22.

Grimes' prison term can range from 10 to 40 years, according to Assistant Prosecuting attorneys Gregory V. Smith and Nicholas F. Colvin, who handled the case.

"The jury looked at the evidence, they weighed the evidence and did their job," said Smith, who thanked Colvin and Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely for helping with the case and the investigating Berkeley County Sheriff's Department deputies.

"The state had faith in its officers all along," said Smith, noting the attempt to work out a plea in the case.

The plea agreed upon, however, was rejected by Sanders after family members objected to the length of the attached prison sentence - 12 years with the opportunity for release after six years if Grimes demonstrated good behavior.

Smith told Kidrick's father after Sanders read the verdict that the judge would now be able to factor in Grimes' past criminal history with police as part of a presentence report, which will be used to determine a sentence.

Grimes' criminal record in Berkeley County includes arrests on charges of domestic assault, possession of a controlled substance, fleeing in a vehicle, reckless driving and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, all in 2003, magistrate court records show.

The domestic assault charge was dismissed because the victim failed to appear in court, but Grimes was sentenced to at least 90 days in jail for the drug-related charges, records show.

Grimes' defense attorneys Homer A. Speaker and Steven A. Greenbaum are expected to appeal the case to the state's high court - the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

"Obviously I'm disappointed," Speaker said. "We'll file our post-trial motions and see what happens."

"Things that happened before the trial ... we will most definitely ask the Supreme Court to review," Speaker added.

Kidrick's father said Thursday that his son's death on July 30, 2005, was his second personal loss in about 10 months. His wife died of cancer on Oct. 3, 2004, and Kidrick said without his faith in Jesus Christ, he would not have been able to endure.

Clearly relieved by the outcome, Kidrick thanked attorneys on both sides, telling Speaker he appreciated the respect that Grimes' court-appointed legal counsel showed his family.

He embraced retired sheriff's department Capt. K.C. Bohrer, who was the lead investigator in the case and now is employed with the Frederick County (Va.) Sheriff's Department.

"Two little boys lost their father," Bohrer said after the verdict was read about 2:20 p.m. "I'm just happy when I see the family gets to see justice."

In closing arguments, Speaker reiterated his client's claim of self-defense. He noted supporting testimony by Ronald L. Kidrick's son, Trejan, now 7, who told police his father pulled his gun first in the encounter with Grimes in the Relax Inn parking lot at 1022 Winchester Ave. in Martinsburg.

"They're trying to make it look like their own witness (Trejan) is confused," Speaker said.

Ronald W. Kidrick said he didn't believe Speaker's claims.

"My son was not the kind of person that would have drawn a gun," Kidrick said after the trial ended.

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