CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The man who pulled the trigger in a November 2016 shooting just blocks from the state capitol pleaded guilty Monday instead of going to trial.


William Pulliam

William Pulliam, 65, of Charleston, was scheduled to go on trial beginning Monday in the death of James Means, 15. Pulliam pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to second degree murder.

Pulliam, who is white, and Means, was black, exchanged words on Washington Street East on Nov. 21, 2016. Witnesses told police the two got into it again a few minutes later when Pulliam came out of the Dollar General store. Means then crossed the street.

Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Don Morris told Kanawha County Circuit Judge Charles King video shows an encounter where Pulliam took out a gun and shot Means in the chest.

“It showed the defendant approaching the victim who was standing still at the time and it appeared his (Means’) hands were down. His hands were down at the time he was shot,” Morris said. “After he was shot he turned to run and he was shot again. That supports the finding of second degree murder.”


James Means

Means was shot in the chest and back with .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol.

Pulliam was originally indicted on a first degree murder charge. He claimed self-defense. The original criminal complaint also quoted Pulliam as telling police he considered the shooting a way to take another piece of trash off the street.

Pulliam faces 20 years in state prison at his sentencing. A date for that hearing was not set.
According to the plea agreement, any time that Pulliam is sentenced to serve in federal prison would be separate from his state sentence. Pulliam faces a firearms charges in U.S. District Court.

Judge King is not bound by the 20-year sentence. He could opt to sentence Pulliam for up to 40 years behind bars. Means’ family members said that would fight for a stiffer sentence.