Man pleads not guilty in W.Va. murder, arson case

February 28, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • Antonio Prophet is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson in the deaths of Angela Kay Devonshire and her son, Andre White.
File photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Virginia man who was indicted last month on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson in the deaths of a Berkeley County woman and her young son pleaded not guilty Monday to the charges in circuit court, according to court records.

In an arraignment hearing, Antonio Prophet, 34, of Lorton, Va., said “yes, sir” when asked by presiding 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes if he agreed to waive his right to a trial in the February term of court. Wilkes scheduled Prophet’s trial for Aug. 29.

Prophet is charged in the deaths of Angela Kay Devonshire, 22, and Andre White, 3, of 69 Sidneys Way, Bunker Hill, W.Va.

Defense attorneys B. Craig Manford and Christopher J. Prezioso were appointed by the court to handle the case.

Prophet is accused of slitting the woman’s throat in her apartment off Sam Mason Road on June 6 and then leaving the residence after setting it on fire, court records said.

The fire originated in the living-room area of the residence, and it appeared that both victims fell through the living-room floor of the garage apartment as it burned, court records said.

Prophet fled from the area afterward, but was captured June 17 outside a homeless shelter in Charlotte, N.C., authorities said.

Among several individuals arraigned Monday on indictments decided at the onset of the February term of court were:

• Jessica N. Faircloth, who is charged with driving under the influence resulting in the death of David E. Kessel.

The trial for Faircloth, 22, who also was indicted on four counts of fraudulent use of a (financial) access device, was scheduled for May 3 by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gray Silver III.

Faircloth was charged after the Honda Accord she was driving crossed the center line on W.Va. 45 and collided with a 2008 Triumph motorcycle ridden by Kessel on July 15, according to the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department and court records.

• The trial for Karen S. Boback, 44, and Jesse A. Lafferty, 33, who were indicted on charges of starving two young children in their custody and locking them in an unfinished basement was scheduled for April 12 by Wilkes.

Boback and Lafferty were indicted last month on two counts of child abuse causing serious bodily injury, two counts of child abuse causing bodily injury, two counts of gross child neglect creating substantial risk of bodily injury or death and one count of conspiracy.

• Wilkes set an Aug. 6 trial for Rebecca J. Ferguson, 39, the former Berkeley County teacher charged with beating her biological children with broom handles, metal coat hangers and other objects.

Ferguson has been indicted on 11 counts of child abuse resulting in injury and eight counts of identity theft, according to her indictment.

The identity theft charges stem from allegations that she took the identity of her oldest child for financial gain, according to court records.

• The trial for Samuel K. Bunner, 38, a former American Red Cross worker who was indicted on one count of embezzlement and one count of falsifying accounts while he worked for the nonprofit emergency response organization was scheduled for May 17 by Silver.

Police have alleged that Bunner “cashed out” prepaid debit cards between August 2009 and February 2010 that were supposed to be given to disaster victims, according to court records.

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