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Pair charged in Berkeley County slaying might testify

Thomas A. Grantham and Robert G. Cross are charged with murder, attempted murder, malicious assault and conspiracy in stabbing of Andre Jackson

June 14, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • James G. Cross and Thomas A. Grantham
File photos

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The prosecution in the murder trial of Thomas A. Grantham and Robert G. Cross rested its case Thursday following testimony from 18 witnesses over three days.

Grantham, 36, of Martinsburg, and Cross, 33, of Kearneysville, W.Va., are charged with murder, attempted murder, malicious assault and conspiracy in the fatal stabbing of Andre Jackson, 21, and wounding of Jacques Taylor, both of Martinsburg, following an argument on April 23, 2011.

Defense attorneys Craig Manford and Christopher Prezioso told presiding 23rd Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes that they were considering putting their clients on the witness stand today.

Manford was also trying to arrange testimony for an “alibi witness,” whom he said could place Grantham away from the scene at the time of the crime. Wilkes said he would allow such testimony only if the prosecution can investigate the witness’s story by the time court resumes this morning.

The judge sent the jury of seven women and five men home for the day so he and the lawyers could hammer out jury instructions. The case is expected to go to the jury sometime today following closing arguments.

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Wilkes also denied defense motions to acquit both defendants based on their attorneys’ claims that the state failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendants are being tried together. 

The judge ruled that Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely met all legal requirements to send both cases to the jury.

Three eyewitnesses who were at the scene testified for the state during the trial.

Grantham and Cross never met Jackson and Taylor until all four were in the Brickhouse Bar and Grill at 214 Midland Parkway the night of the slaying. The four had words in the parking lot after the bar closed at 3 a.m., according to testimony.

They continued their argument at a nearby Exxon gas station before they moved to Rock Cliff Drive near its intersection with Polo Green Drive. It was there that the argument erupted in an explosion of violence, the testimony said.

Taylor and Jackson were slashed repeatedly while they sat in the front seats of Taylor’s car. Witnesses at the scene testified that Grantham and Cross walked up to their vehicle, with Grantham on the driver’s side, where Taylor was sitting, and Cross on the passenger’s side, where Jackson was.

Jackson died shortly after he arrived at City Hospital. Taylor, who was seriously wounded, survived his injuries, the testimony said.

The defendants were apprehended several days later at the home of Grantham's cousin in Cincinnati, Ohio, by police there after Berkeley County investigators learned of their location, Games-Neely said.

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