Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks anticipates murder charges against Tennis Maynard in the shooting death of Sheriff Eugene Crum will be taken straight to the grand jury.
“We are strongly considering proceeding to a direct indictment,” Sparks told MetroNews Tuesday.
Maynard remains in Cabell-Huntington Hospital recovering from a gunshot wound. He was shot in the nearby community of Delbarton by a pursuing deputy only minutes after allegedly gunning down Crum only a few yards from the courthouse in Williamson.
“When the defendant is released from the hospital he will then be taken into custody,” Sparks said. “I believe he’s going to be incarcerated at Western Regional Jail for his safety.”
Maynard was charged with murder and attempted murder in the case. Sparks said despite the overwhelming evidence, the case is still going through the proper channels and a thorough investigation is underway.
“I am confident we have a firm grasp of the surrounding circumstances of Sheriff Crum’s murder,” he said. “But there is still work to be done.”
Maynard’s father indicated his son has mental problems that likely led to the shooting. Whether his mental state will be a factor in the case will be played out as it goes to trial. Some have speculated the sheriff’s murder may have been retaliation for his aggressive pursuit of drug dealers in Mingo County, but Sparks said that is doubtful.
“That could be a factor, but there’s no substantial evidence this was some retaliation or an assassination or a hit,” Sparks said.
Despite the high-profile nature of the case, Sparks said an impartial jury can be found locally and the case tried in Mingo County. Judge Michael Thornsbury, a close friend of the sheriff who spoke at Crum’s funeral, has voluntarily recused himself from the case.
The next Mingo County grand jury is scheduled to convene next Monday, a period Sparks expects to be busy because of Crum’s anti-drug legacy. Numerous drug cases are due to be presented at the time and logistically it may take a week to process all of the sealed indictments that must be served.
“I would anticipate within two weeks, Mr. Maynard will be indicted for first-degree murder and attempted murder,” Sparks said.