UPDATED: Martinsburg murder trial goes to jury

Grant does not testify in own defense

Grant does not testify in own defense

November 29, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Jurors in the trial of one of two men accused in the 2005 shooting death of Donald "Dee" Redman in Martinsburg planned to begin deliberations this afternoon.

Closing arguments were presented this morning after the defense rested its case without calling any witnesses. Defendant John J. Grant, aka "Butter," chose not to testify.

The jury selected a foreman and told 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gray Silver III that it wanted to take a lunch break before beginning deliberations at 2 p.m.

On Wednesday, the second day of his jury trial, Grant told Silver he couldn't say he killed Redman.

"I didn't shoot this man," Grant told Silver while the jury was out of the courtroom.

Indicted last year on one count of first-degree murder, Grant, 23, appeared ready to enter a guilty plea to second-degree murder that would have come with a 20-year prison sentence and the possibility of it being cut in half for good behavior. A mandatory life sentence is applied to a first-degree murder conviction, but juries can recommend eligibility for parole after 15 years are served.


On Wednesday, Grant had given steady responses of "yes, sir" to several standard pre-sentence questions asked by Silver, before the New York man stopped short of saying in his own words that he shot Redman in the head. Police have said the shooting happened at the duplex home of Wayne "Dougie" Derflinger the morning of Oct. 27, 2005.

"I believe we were selling drugs ... came down here to make some money ... and the guy got shot," Grant said.

That admission didn't satisfy Prosecuting Attorney Pamela J. Games-Neely, who rose from her seat and asked the defendant for a more clear confession.

She didn't get it. Grant said he was sorry for Redman's family and was forever willing to take care of them, but couldn't say he shot their loved one. He acknowledged the plea agreement came with the reality of being separated from his young daughter, something he couldn't accept. In an affidavit filed in August 2007, Grant wrote that his child was 4 years old, court records show.

"He wants to go on, go on with the trial," announced B. Craig Manford after talking with his client about the sentencing proceeding that the defendant effectively ended at the last minute.

After a flurry of plea negotiations just after lunch, Games-Neely and Martinsburg Police Department Detective G.B. Swartwood told the judge that the victim's family and the department's police chief, Ted Anderson, agreed to the reduced charge. After the proceedings had stopped for the day, Games-Neely said she offered the plea because witnesses were fearful of testifying against Grant and a version of the plea deal had been extended before.

Last month, Grant was indicted on two counts of witness intimidation and two counts of witness retaliation stemming from the discovery of letters Grant allegedly wrote from jail. The letters asked a friend to help him convince certain witnesses to change their testimony for his trial and that he wanted one witness in a coma.

One of the named witnesses was Leroy "Peanut" Newell, who testified on Wednesday that he was within a few feet of Redman when he saw Grant point the gun at his friend.

"And the next thing I know, the gun went off," said Newell, who couldn't say he witnessed the actual shooting in the pantry/laundry room of Derflinger's home.

Newell had no explanation for the toy gun found by police at the crime scene and couldn't recall who dragged Redman, 29, to an enclosed porch at 515 Third St., the other half of the duplex.

Newell said he left the home "in shock" and went to his home in Capital Heights, where he admitted he later lied to Redman's girlfriend about what happened.

Priscilla Cordell Anderson testified on Wednesday that she only knew Grant and the other suspect in Redman's death by their nicknames - Butter and Prince.

"It was pretty much common knowledge that Butter had shot him," said Anderson, who admitted she had a relationship with Prince and sold crack cocaine for him. She said she allowed the New York City men to stay at a home Prince provided for the mother of three children.

"He was pretty open about it."

Martinsburg Police Department Detective Sgt. G.B. Swartwood told jurors on Wednesday that a warrant (for aiding and abetting murder) had been issued for Prince's arrest.

Though she didn't witness the shooting, Anderson said she understood their brother-like relationship, though she believed they were not related.

"Butter pretty much watched Prince's back. Prince called the shots. He did what Prince needed done," she testified.

Anderson said she believed Grant shot Redman because he thought the victim had a gun, but later discovered it was a toy.

The single bullet fired by the real gun entered Redman's skull from his left side in the temple area, Hamada Mahmoud, a state deputy chief medical examiner, testified on Wednesday.

"It caused instant death," Mahmoud said.

Evidence collected in his autopsy led to the conclusion that the barrel of the weapon used was in contact with Redman's head when it was fired.

A toxicology examination showed Redman used cocaine just before he died, Mahmoud said.

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