WAYNE, W.Va. A Wayne County man sentenced Friday to a 60-year prison sentence for murder and robbery will have a chance for parole in 20 years. 


Willie Copley

Willie Copley, 27, of Dunlow, shot and killed James Spurlock, 46, of Radnor, on May 31, 2012, during an attempt to steal prescription drugs.

Copley pleaded guilty last month to robbery and entered a no contest plea to the charge of murder.

Wayne County prosecutor Tom Plymale admitted Friday it’s unusual to take a no contest plea on a murder charge.

“His position was he did not go in there with the intent on murder,” Plymale said. “We had to provide the factual basis that established first-degree murder.”

Copley claimed there was a struggle and that he and Spurlock exchanged gunfire when Spurlock was killed. Prosecutors, however, alleged Spurlock was dragged into another room where Copley killed him. The key witness for the prosecution was Spurlock’s 7-year-old son.

The effect of the no contest plea is basically the same as a guilty plea. The judge sentenced Copley to 60 years in prison for robbery and life in prison with a chance for parole on the murder plea. Plymale said the prison time would run concurrently and Copley would have a chance for parole in 20 years.

A co-defendant in the case, 19-year-old Dylan Jarrells, has pleaded guilty to robbery and is serving time at the Anthony Center for youthful offenders.

Plymale said his case file is full of drug-related crimes that end in tragedy.

“These are people stealing or committing other crimes to get their hands on drugs or just the actual drug transactions themselves,” he said.

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  • james maynard

    It was no dought wrong for what they did i dont know how one can get 60 years and the other get 1 year they both was their and both comited the crime willie jay got 40 years for robbery and they other boy got 1 year tell me how that happen and to beat it all nothing was taken from the house no drugs or nothing how is that robery i really hate this had to go like this willie jay has a little boy that is going to grow up without a daddy my heart goes out to him and the victems family in this case we will never know what really happen in this case we can only asume we do no willie jay is going to pay for his part and the other got a slap on the wrist and the son of willie jay will grow up without a daddy been around to guide him and watch over him willie jay growed up without a dad his mother had to work and willie jay had to stay here and their but his mother done what she could do and tried to guide willie jay in the right direction its hard been a single mother and now the son of willie jay is going to be without a dad in the home i feel for all the familys in this case no one is going to gain a thing only suffer

  • Elkins


  • DWL

    What a useless jurist setting behind the bench! Bet he doesn’t even know the difference between the words consecutive or concurrent. Sentences like this are what facilitate the liberal corruptness in southern WV. He should have been sentenced to life then consecutively to the 60 yrs.

    This pos will be out in 10 or less due to the excuse of “over crowding”.

  • mauldawg

    Did not intent to kill,What the hell was his intent? This is why lawyers are so mistrusted in America. They will say and do anything to help scum get off.This piece of low life trash should never see daylight again.How this lawyer can go home ,look at his family and say "I did the state a great service today,I helped a killer get a chance at parole in 20 years. After all he just killed one person and he said he didn't intend to do it". What a load of crap this trail was. From top to bottom.

  • AX MAN

    Parole in 20 years for murder. un- believable? If you want to commit a crime, W.Va., is the place to do it, won't be long before they will give you 20 years + one month vacation per year with pay, this is un-real.