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Hoak trial goes to jury

November 16, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - It's been nearly five years since Larry Hose was shot to death in the parking lot of Images nightclub along W.Va. 51 near Middleway, W.Va., and the incident was brought back in detail Thursday as attorneys in Raymond Hoak's murder trial began bringing the case to a close.

Prosecutors and defense attorney Paul Taylor have finished presenting their cases, and the sides gave their closing arguments before a jury Thursday afternoon at Jefferson County Circuit Court.

Jurors received the case Thursday afternoon, and they were given four possible verdicts from which to choose - first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or not guilty.

Jury members took care of some preliminary matters, including selecting a foreman, then decided they would retire for the day and resume deliberations today at 9 a.m.

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Hose, 29, of Kearneysville, W.Va., was shot once in the chest outside Images on Feb. 9, 2003, and Hoak has said he acted in self-defense when Hose was shot.

Hoak, 31, of Kearneysville, told police he was scared of Hose and that Hose had threatened to kill him before in a long-running feud over Hoak's affair with Hose's former wife.

Hoak was indicted on a first-degree murder charge. Hoak's first trial ended in a mistrial in 2005 after a jury could not reach a verdict.

Assistant Prosecutor Larry Crofford began attempting to unravel Hoak's self-defense theory Thursday, taking the jury back to the scene at Images one more time.

To raise a self-defense case, a person has to demonstrate that there was an attempt to retreat from a threat and not to fight any more, Crofford said.

Initially, there were words between Hoak and Hose inside the bar, then the two separated.

Crofford said Hoak had three opportunities to retreat, or leave the bar, but he did not.

Hoak could have left Images after he first saw Hose inside, Hoak could have left after he and Hose had words between each other or Hoak could have left the bar before a second confrontation between the two in the parking lot, Crofford said.

Although Hoak said he was afraid of Hose, Crofford said Hoak stayed in Images after words were exchanged between the men, and Hoak appeared to be having a good time in the bar.

"He wasn't afraid of Larry Hose at that moment, and that's the critical thing," Crofford told jurors.

Crofford suggested that the threats made to Hoak by Hose simply were annoyances.

Hoak shook his head from side to side as Crofford made the comment.

Taylor focused on Hose's violent behavior and what Hoak had to go through in the ordeal.

There have been statements in the case that Hose once tried to burn down Hoak's house by tossing a Molotov cocktail at it and that Hose was familiar with the layout of Hoak's home.

As a result, Hoak had hung quilts over the windows in his home, according to statements.

Taylor related an incident where Hose beat the mother of his children, among other acts.

"Sounds like a sicko to me. Sounds like a psychopath," Taylor said.

Taylor accused the state and their investigators of pursuing facts to fit their theory in the case, and Taylor took exception to how Crofford referred to the testimony from West Virginia State Police 1st Sgt. Eric Burnett.

Burnett testified that he and another trooper were off duty in a private car in 1995 when a car began tailgating them.

Burnett said the driver eventually pointed a gun at him, and the driver was Hoak.

Taylor said Crofford referred to Burnett as being an undercover officer in front of the jury, but Burnett actually was off duty looking for a hunting place when the incident occurred, Taylor said.

"See the spin the state puts on things," Taylor said.

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