SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. — A Nicholas County man who killed two adults and two children and then dumped their bodies near his Leivasy home last year will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

MetroNews file photo

James Belknap, 27, of Leivasy plead guilty to four counts of first degree murder this week.

Nicholas County Prosecuting Attorney P.K. Milam said James Roy Belknap, 27, abruptly plead guilty to four counts of first degree murder on Wednesday night.

Belknap gunned down Steven Leroy Hendrix, his girlfriend, Amber Martin, and Hendrix’s two kids, Dakota, age six, and Kaylee, age four.

Their bodies, which had been stripped, were found in May 2012 after they were reported missing.

Milam says Belknap originally confessed to the crimes but then recanted and tried to blame someone else.

“We were able to show that there wasn’t anyone else involved,” he said.  “But all along, he wouldn’t admit, after the first statement, to killing these two children particularly.”

That changed Wednesday night following a pretrial hearing ahead of Belknap’s trial which was scheduled to begin on August 13.

Milam said Belknap volunteered to plead guilty to the murders if separate accessory charges were dropped against his then-girlfriend and another man.  They were charged with transporting Belknap following the crimes.

“That’s the only plea that we would accept on this, was something that would guarantee that this man will never be back on the streets again,” said Milam.

State Police have said they think Hendrix went to Belknap’s Leivasy home to collect a drug debt.

On Thursday afternoon, Milam and an investigator were scheduled to sit down to question Belknap about what happened leading up to the murders during a debriefing that was a condition of his plea.

Belknap also reportedly wants to plead guilty to the 2005 murder of Richard Parnell.

Belknap’s father, Kenneth, is serving a life sentence for killing Parnell and burning his body for shorting he and his son on cocaine.  James Belknap had originally been charged with a role in that crime.

That plea request is something investigators will be reviewing.

For now, Milam said they will move forward with the case for the 2012 murders.  He talked with the family members of those victims on Wednesday night.  “They’re just ecstatic that we don’t have to go through a long, drawn out trial and that this guy is never going to see the light of day again.”

Belknap will be sentenced on August 28.  At that point, a judge will decide whether mercy will be granted.  Milam said he thinks mercy is unlikely which means Belknap would spend the rest of his life in prison.

“If I was a betting man, there’s no way he’s getting mercy on any of these,” he said.  “He’s looking at four life sentences.”

Milam was a guest on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

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  • porkchop

    The only one i feel sorry for in this case is the children, why is the father taking his kids on a drug deal? What ever this guy get will never be enough, but the dad and girlfriend should have never put those kids in that situation.

  • chasmo

    Rich : not sure where you heard about the New Prison being " off the board" , but that is THE WORD thruout the state. I respect your job more than words can describe or express- however , CERTAIN CRIMES DO NOT DESERVE TO LIVE IN THIS WORLD . There are NUMEROUS " lifers " w/out mercy that simply need to be REMOVED from breathing ~~~~~ and, this would DEFINITELY free up a lot of space. On Hop's talkline the other day pertaining to the Clarksburg Murders, 3,000,000 dollars to keep the killer alive~~~ that's just ONE . Lets NOT blast Hoppy , he is " on it " and will address this issue. Thanks , and you do a job I can't imagine of even " trying " to do.

  • AX MAN

    Therefore Rich, I guess killing people is just okay?????

  • rich

    I work in prisons. No new prison is coming.
    As for "three hots and a cot" yeah they are fed and clothed. The cells are no more than 6 feet wide and accommodate 2 people. No privacy. The day is structured. All as it should be and certainly preferable to the death penalty for them. Yes, they have access to work, making plates and furniture, and to recreation such as weight room and tv (which they pay for the tv and cable). Guess what: corrections officers requested those things because they keep the peace and lessen riots.
    Hoppy could do a great story on a speech former Majority Leader Rober Tompkins did in opposition to the death penalty, in spite of the senseless killing of his family. But then it would require reseach and presenting a viewpoint opposite of Hoppy's, so don't expect it.

  • Big Easy

    People like that don't suffer they have no soul.
    He is just a good waste of air.

  • mickey hendrix

    for them to put him to sleep is too nice after what he did to our family. i hope he suffers everyday of his life

  • Big Easy

    I think we should go back to public hangings.
    Leave the gallows set up in front of the court houses and walk them straight out to them.
    This should not be a burden for the tax payers of the state for the next 50 or 60 years.

  • chasmo

    maybe an inmate will help us remove this piece of sh** from taking another breath.
    All you that are AGAINST the DEATH PENALTY - what about this case ??
    Word is coming down that a new HAMPTON INN PRISON will be built WITH our TAX MONEY . Come on legislators, let us vote !!!

  • blugldmn

    3 hots and a cot for the rest of his miserable life...oh and healthcare to...

    • GregG

      Yes, let's house him, cloth him, feed him, entertain him and provide him with eye care, dental care and health care. And all the while a big coal company, with the help of a judge, is allowed take away the benefits of working miners who earned them through had work and labor.

  • ConservativeRealist

    This slug of humanity didn't give two (2) innocent children mercy and the Judge should return the sentiment. Two (2) concurrent life sentences with mercy to be followed by two (2) consecutive life-without mercy sentences. May he rot in one of our State's penal facilities...