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Jury to decide sentence on man convicted in 2011 slaying

October 22, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A jury in Berkeley County Circuit Court is expected to determine whether one of two men convicted in June in the 2011 stabbing death of a man and wounding of another can be sentenced to life in prison because of two apparent prior felony convictions.

James G. Cross Jr., 34, was convicted of second-degree murder, attempted murder and malicious assault in the slaying of Andre Jackson, 21, of Hedgesville, W.Va., and the wounding of Jacques Taylor of Kearneysville, W.Va.

Co-defendant Thomas A. Grantham, 36, was convicted of the same felonies, but his past convictions could not be used to pursue a similar recidivist action and a life sentence, according to Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely.

Grantham was sentenced by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes in August to more than 40 years in prison.

The jury seated for Cross’ trial, which is set to begin Tuesday at 9 a.m., is expected to hear state’s evidence documenting the defendant’s previous convictions, according to Games-Neely.

In a recidivist information filed with the court in August, Games-Neely cites case numbers indicating Cross was previously convicted in January 2001 in federal district court of distribution of cocaine and sentenced to nine years in prison.

Games-Neely said Cross was convicted in Jefferson County Circuit Court on charges of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and assault in December 1997 and ordered to serve from six months to two years sentence at the Anthony Correctional Center as a youthful offender.

Games-Neely said after Monday’s pretrial hearing that Cross did not have any other prior felony convictions.

Cross and Grantham, both of Martinsburg, were indicted on first-degree murder charges in the slaying of Jackson and the wounding of Taylor.

The attack occurred on Rock Cliff Drive in the early hours of April 23, 2011.

Witnesses testified at Cross’ and Grantham’s trial that Cross stabbed Jackson to death while Jackson sat in the passenger seat and Grantham wounded Taylor, who was in the driver’s seat of a vehicle on Rock Cliff Drive near Polo Green Drive.

According to testimony, Cross and Grantham didn’t know Jackson and Taylor until they met that night at the Brickhouse Bar and Grill at 214 Mid Atlantic Parkway.

The club closed earlier this year following a fatal shooting outside in the parking lot of the establishment. That homicide remains under investigation.

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