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Man pleads guilty to death of Eastern Regional Jail inmate

October 16, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A man charged with second-degree murder in the July 2011 death of a fellow Eastern Regional Jail inmate pleaded guilty Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter in Berkeley County Magistrate Court.

As part of a plea agreement, Dewarren Bruce Jenkins, 25, of Oklahoma City, Okla., was ordered to serve eight months of a one-year jail sentence. The remaining four months were suspended for two years of probation.

Jenkins was charged in the July 29, 2011, death of Melvin Cox, 53, of Bunker Hill, W.Va., which came four days after the two men fought. Authorities were told the fight apparently began after Jenkins told Cox he didn’t want his cell cleaned with a dirty mop, according to court documents.

Jenkins was allowed to enter the plea to the misdemeanor charge Tuesday after no eyewitnesses appeared for the hearing, according to Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Saunders.

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Saunders said after Tuesday’s hearing that only two of the eyewitnesses gave statements to authorities, but their statements lacked detail and she had hoped to obtain testimony in court.

Saunders said Cox, who seemed “fine” after the fight occurred on July 25, also refused to give a statement about the altercation.

The Virginia Medical Examiner’s office determined that Cox died of blunt-force trauma, according to police and court documents.

Cox’s injuries included a skull fracture, traumatic brain injuries and swelling as a result of the fight, according to police. He died at Winchester (Va.) Medical Center, police said.

Jenkins, who was arrested May 24 in Oklahoma, was released from Eastern Regional Jail before the warrant charging him with Cox’s death was obtained, police said.

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