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Hoak found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in second trial

November 21, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Raymond Hoak was found guilty Tuesday morning of voluntary manslaughter, but the verdict in Jefferson County Circuit Court appeared to do little to calm feelings on either side of the case.

After the verdict was read, Hoak's wife, Shelley, began crying.

She approached the defense table and Hoak, 31, came to her for a long embrace.

Outside the courtroom, Hoak's wife said her husband had to fight for his life when victim Larry G. Hose was alive.

"He's got to fight for it again," she said.

Hoak, standing beside his wife, was dealing calmly with the verdict.

"It's in God's hands. It's God's will," he said.

Mary Jacques, Hose's mother, reacted angrily to the verdict as well as to testimony in the case.

"He should have gotten life. They got people up there to lie for them. It will all come back to them one day. God will take care of them," Jacques said outside the courtroom.

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For the voluntary manslaughter verdict, presiding 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Thomas W. Steptoe Jr. will choose a sentence for Hoak of three to 15 years in prison, Crofford said.

Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 24 at 2:15 p.m.

The jury received the case last Thursday afternoon and deliberated all day Friday before taking a weekend break.

Jurors resumed deliberations at 9 a.m. Tuesday and reached a verdict about an hour later.

The jury picked the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter over possible verdicts of first-degree murder, for which Hoak was indicted, second-degree murder or not guilty.

Hoak's attorney Paul G. Taylor said he will appeal the verdict and will base it partly on an unusual note from a juror about penalties and Steptoe's decision not to let the jury consider a possible verdict of involuntary manslaughter, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison.

Taylor said he will probably argue the issues before Steptoe in a hearing scheduled for Jan. 7 at 2 p.m.

If Steptoe does not rule in Hoak's favor, Taylor said he will take his appeal to the state Supreme Court of Appeals.

"We're a little disappointed," Taylor said of the jury's verdict. "We were hoping for not guilty, but it could have been worse."

Conviction on a first-degree murder charge carries a life sentence in jail without the possibility of parole.

Hoak will remain free on a cash bond at least until the Jan. 7 hearing, Taylor said. Hoak was on home detention, but he was taken off following his first trial in 2005, which ended in mistrial after a jury could not reach a verdict, Prosecuting Attorney Larry Crofford said.

Crofford argued Tuesday after the verdict that Hoak should be taken into custody immediately, but Steptoe allowed Hoak to remain free on bond.

Besides reaching a verdict on voluntary manslaughter, the jury also was asked if they believed a firearm was used in the offense. The jury agreed that a firearm was used. The decision is used to help Steptoe with his sentencing decision, Taylor said.

According to testimony, Hoak, of Kearneysville, W.Va., once had an affair with Hose's former wife and Hose once tried to burn down Hoak's house by tossing a Molotov cocktail at it.

There were also statements in the case that Hose was familiar with the layout of Hoak's home. As a result, Hoak hung quilts over the windows, according to statements.

Tensions came to a head Feb. 9, 2003, when Hoak and Hose, 29, also of Kearneysville, met outside Images nightclub near Middleway, W.Va.

Hose was shot once in the chest and Hoak was seen getting into a car after the shooting. Hoak was later found by police at a house off Hite Road, according to testimony.

Hoak said he acted in self-defense when Hose was shot, but Crofford emphasized to jurors that Hoak had three opportunities at the bar the night of the shooting to avoid a confrontation with Hose.

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