Man sentenced to life in prison plus another 40 years in fatal stabbing, wounding

December 03, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • James Glenn Cross Jr.
Submitted photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — One of two men convicted in the 2011 stabbing death of a 21-year-old man and wounding of another was sentenced Monday in Berkeley County Circuit Court to life in prison plus another 40 years.

James Glenn Cross Jr., 34, along with co-defendant Thomas Anthony Grantham, 36, were convicted in June of second-degree murder, attempted murder and malicious assault in the slaying of Andre Jackson and the wounding of Jacques Taylor.

On Monday, Cross was ordered by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes to serve 40 years in prison for the second-degree murder charge and life in prison for having been convicted of a third felony offense at his trial in June. Wilkes allowed the defendant to serve a one- to three-year sentence for the attempted murder conviction at the same time as the other two prison terms.

A jury in a one-day recidivist trial in October found that Cross was convicted of two prior felony offenses, which was required under the state’s “three strikes” law to pursue a life sentence.

Cross could be eligible for parole after serving 10 years of the murder sentence and 15 years of the life sentence, but Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said after Monday’s sentencing hearing that it is unlikely the defendant would ever be released from prison.

Cross and Grantham, who was sentenced in August, have been ordered to pay a total of more than $8,300 in restitution.

Jackson’s maternal grandmother, Jean McCray, asked Wilkes on Monday to give Cross the maximum sentence, saying she didn’t have any sympathy for the defendant. She told the judge she had not yet been able to find it in her heart to forgive him for slaying her grandson.

“Andre might not have been the greatest citizen in the community ... (but) he meant a lot to his family,” McCray said. “He wasn’t supposed to die before I did.”

McCray noted that Jackson’s daughter turned 2 last week and would never know her father other than what family members will tell her about him.

McCray said her grandson was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The fatal attack occurred on Rock Cliff Drive in the early hours of April 23, 2011, after the men met each other earlier that night at the Brickhouse Bar and Grill at 214 Mid Atlantic Parkway, according to trial testimony.

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

Just before being sentenced, Cross apologized to Jackson’s family for their loss as a result of the altercation, but also maintained he feared for his own life.

In reaching his sentencing judgment, Wilkes told Cross that the physical evidence and testimony at trial didn’t support his claim that he didn’t confront Jackson and Taylor.

Prior to sentencing Cross, Wilkes denied motions for a new recidivist trial for the defendant and judgment of acquittal by defense attorney Christopher J. Prezioso.

The jury seated in October for the trial deliberated for more than 2 1/2 hours before finding that Cross was convicted of two prior felony charges as court records indicated.

In arguments Monday, Prezioso noted the extended deliberation by the jury, which appeared to deliberate longer than it took Games-Neely to present the state’s evidence of Cross’ felony convictions.

The investigating officers involved in Cross’ felony convictions in 1997 and 2001 and in June 2012 identified the defendant as the same man linked to all three and Games-Neely told Wilkes on Monday that more than ample evidence had been presented in the recidivist proceeding to show Cross’ “life of crime.”

Cross’ sentence was made effective Oct. 11, 2011, after the judge agreed to credit the defendant for more than 400 days he served in jail prior to his trial.

Wilkes did not credit Cross for the time he served on pretrial release. Grantham was sentenced by Wilkes to serve 40 years in prison for his second-degree murder conviction in addition to sentences of one to three years and two to 10 years for attempted murder and malicious assault convictions. Each prison sentence was ordered to be served consecutively to the other. Grantham’s past convictions could not be used to pursue a similar recidivist action and a life sentence, Games-Neely has said.

Games-Neely, who asked the court to order consecutive prison terms Monday, told Wilkes that Cross could have ended up serving less time behind bars than Grantham, if given a lighter sentence.

“I’m sure he is remorseful now ... he got caught,” Games-Neely said.

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