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Plea agreement offered in fatal shooting

February 14, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • Elan Bell-Veney
Elan Bell-Veney

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Martinsburg man charged in the 2008 shooting death of a Stephens City, Va., man could be sentenced to six years in prison as part of a plea agreement reached in the case, attorneys announced Monday.

Elan Bell-Veney, 24, would enter guilty pleas to one felony count of wanton endangerment and a misdemeanor count of involuntary manslaughter if the agreement is accepted by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gray Silver III.

Bell-Veney would serve a five-year sentence for the felony conviction and a one-year sentence for the misdemeanor consecutively. He also would have to speak with police regarding the shooting and possibly testify in court. Bell-Veney also must write letters of apology to the family of the victim, Kenneth E. Waybright, according to Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely.

Attorneys have been appointed for Dale Knight and Donzell White, who were wounded in the shooting, according to Games-Neely.

Bell-Veney, who is incarcerated on an unrelated federal charge, could be sentenced May 2 if Silver accepts the plea.   

Bell-Veney was indicted in February 2010 on one count of first-degree murder, two counts of malicious assault and three counts of wanton endangerment in the July 20, 2008, shooting death of Waybright at the former Orioles Club at 214 Mid Atlantic Parkway near Martinsburg.

Waybright, 37, was determined by police to be an innocent bystander in the shooting. Waybright, according to police, was fatally wounded by a bullet that ricocheted and struck him in the head.

In announcing the plea agreement Monday, Games-Neely said Bell-Veney was acting in “self-defense mode” in the shooting and that the case was much broader than anticipated.

Games-Neely said after the hearing that the victim’s mother was opposed to the plea agreement, but the victim’s wife and brother did not object.

Defense attorney Sherman Lambert told the court Monday that Bell-Veney accepted full responsibility for his actions and is “extremely remorseful” to the victim’s family. Lambert said he was retained by the family, joining Eric S. Black in Bell-Veney’s defense.

Bell-Veney and the owners of the club have been named in a civil wrongful death action also pending in circuit court, according to court records.

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