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Trial for man accused in '05 slayings set to begin Tuesday

September 07, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The trial for a Berkeley County man accused in the shooting deaths of a father and son at their home in September 2005 is to begin Tuesday with jury selection. Attorneys completed pretrial motions Thursday.

Wade Warren Painter, 27, of 385 Pond Lane, was indicted in February 2006 on two counts of first-degree murder, along with counts of possession of a stolen vehicle, grand larceny, daytime burglary and petit larceny, according to court records.

Painter is accused in the Sept. 14, 2005, slayings of Raymond White Jr., 54, and White's 20-year-old son, Raymond White IV, both of 1734 Paynes Ford Road. Police determined that Raymond White Jr. was shot twice and severely beaten, and his son was found shot once above his right ear sometime between 3 and 10 a.m.

In a hearing Thursday, 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes denied motions to suppress evidence recovered at the trailer where Painter and his girlfriend lived off Pond Lane.

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Angela Conner, Painter's girlfriend at the time of the murder, testified Thursday that she had her father contact the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department about items she found in the trailer.

"I was upset, there were things in the house that didn't belong to us," Conner said under direct examination by Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela J. Games-Neely.

Because she initiated the arrival of police to the home, Wilkes ruled that the evidence, including some items that police allege were stained with blood and others that belonged to the victims, could be admitted.

"It was not a nonconsensual search," Wilkes concluded.

A motion to suppress statements given by Painter to police also was generally denied by Wilkes, but the judge said he wanted to review at least one portion that came after the defendant apparently indicated to a Berkeley County Sheriff's Department deputy that he couldn't afford an attorney.

"It's really not a confession," Wilkes said of Painter's interview with police. "It's a statement."

Still to be resolved are legal issues concerning possible defense arguments about "diminished capacity" of the accused at the time of murders. In the hearing Thursday, Attorney B. Craig Manford told Wilkes he was following up on information indicating the accused appeared to be sweaty, was vomiting and under the influence of "dope" around the time of the crime.

Wilkes also is expected to decide on a defense motion to separate the jury's findings of guilt or innocence on the murder charges and whether he should be granted mercy.

In other rulings, Wilkes allowed Games-Neely to use four photographs that show where authorities found the father and son.

Games-Neely said one photograph appears to support a theory that one victim was eating in the kitchen.

While reviewing the photograph, Wilkes noted a box of Texas toast was shown, and Games-Neely also indicated a bag of grapes was noted.

Wilkes also denied a motion to separate the two homicides, concluding there were "no grounds whatsoever" to do so. Manford mentioned that the defendant's previous counsel had made that motion.

Before adjourning the hearing, Wilkes explained to Painter his right to testify or remain silent, and also wanted to be sure the defendant was aware of any possible plea agreement offers to avert a trial.

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