Motion denied to hold separate trials in W.Va. murder case

December 19, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A motion to hold separate trials for two men accused in the April 2011 fatal stabbing of one man and the wounding of another was denied Monday by a circuit court judge.

Thomas A. Grantham Jr., 35, and James G. Cross Jr., 33, were indicted in October on single counts of murder, attempted murder, malicious assault and conspiracy in the fatal stabbing of Andre Jackson, 21, and the wounding of Jacques Taylor.

Police have said the victims were attacked April 23 while parked in a vehicle in the 1900 block of Rock Cliff Drive near Polo Green Drive just outside Martinsburg.

An argument between the victims and the defendants began in the parking lot of Brickhouse Bar & Grill before the attack, witnesses testified during a preliminary hearing in Berkeley County Magistrate Court.

The trial for Grantham and Cross is scheduled for Jan. 31, but Grantham’s attorney, Sherman L. Lambert Sr., asked 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes to continue the proceeding.

Cross’ attorney, Christopher J. Prezioso, told the court his client was unwilling to waive his right to a speedy trial within the current term of circuit court and objected to Lambert’s motion to postpone the case.

Prezioso on Monday separately asked Wilkes to consider reducing Cross’ bond, which now is set at $1 million, citing a previous request by Grantham’s attorney.

Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely objected to Prezioso’s motion, citing Cross’ criminal history, which she said included felony convictions.

In a previous hearing, Grantham’s bond was reduced and he was placed on home confinement after bail was posted, but he was put back in jail Oct. 31 after violating the terms of his release, according to court records.

Wilkes, who delayed making a decision on Cross’ request for a bond reduction until receiving a report from the 23rd Judicial Circuit probation office, said the motion is “a tough one” to consider granting, given the defendant’s criminal history.

Grantham, who lives in Martinsburg, was released from jail on a $100,000 bond and was being monitored by a GPS navigation device while on home confinement.

The judicial circuit’s probation office, however, discovered that the defendant traveled to places, including a number of restaurants and other businesses, where he was not supposed to be.

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