SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. — The Nicholas County man found guilty Wednesday in the 2007 murder of his wife at their Birch River home could spend the rest of his life in prison.
After more than six hours of deliberation, the jury returned a guilty verdict against Paul Darren Spinks, 44, for the shooting death of his wife, Elizabeth. Jurors recommended no mercy, meaning Spinks won’t be eligible for parole.
At the end of a six-day trial, Nicholas County prosecutor Samuel White said the verdict would bring closure to the victim’s loved ones.
“Darren Spinks murdered Elizabeth Spinks,” White said. “I want to congratulate (the prosecution) on a job well done, and I hope the family can get some peace out of the verdict that was just read.
White credited jurors with being thorough in a case where much of the evidence against Spinks was circumstantial,
“They spent most of today going through all the evidence,” he said. “They’ve been attentive all throughout the trial. That was noted by both sides during the closing arguments. I think the fact that they spent so much time today shows that they were going through the evidence.”
No murder weapon was discovered and Spinks’ hands showed no trace of gunpowder residue. The defense team claimed the shooting was an attack by an unknown assailant, pointing out that Spinks was also shot that day and nearly bled out.
“That always makes it more difficult to, one, not have a murder weapon, but also the passage of time,” White said. “People’s memories aren’t as good as they used to be. But regardless, there was one explanation for what happened here.”
The prosecution postulated that Spinks shot himself to cover his tracks, highlighting flaws in the alternate shooter theory with the help of witnesses who heard the two shots. The state also brought to light what they deemed odd behavior by Spinks during and immediately after the shooting—painting him as calculating how best to cover up the crime.
A sentencing hearing will be held Sept. 3. First-degree murder without mercy carries a sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole.