FAIRMONT, W.Va. — February’s grand jury was recalled to court in Marion County to consider murder charges against five people.
“There were at least 2 persons that we were searching for who were not apprehended and in custody yet. I didn’t want to scatter the indictments sporadically and indict two or three now and two or three later,” explained Marion County Prosecutor Jeff Freeman following Wednesday’s special grand jury session.
The defendants are suspects in the fatal shooting of Malcom Whitted at a Watson Avenue Fairmont apartment in November 2016.
Investigators discovered Whitted was the victim of a home invasion robbery.
Freeman said parts of the investigation were ongoing when the jury originally met in February.
“It was locating some of the people who had taken flight, to be honest. Some did it to other states and other areas. Some were just on the run avoiding capture here locally,” Freeman detailed.
The grand jury indicted Michelle Kay Belton, Oscar Chapman, Vanny Jermaine Clay, John Deahl and Devon Stephens of first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, nighttime burglary and conspiracy.
All five of the suspects face the four charges.
Freeman said two defendants have yet to hire attorneys.
“One was in federal custody on supervised release violations in that system. Another was still in the state of Delaware. We’re retrieving him in a week or two.”
The next Marion County grand jury meets in June.
“They’re all incarcerated so it’s really unfair to wait longer just to gain a strategic advantage. I didn’t want to do that or be accused of that,” Freeman said of his decision to call on grand jury that is currently seated until next month.
Arraignments are being scheduled for the five murder suspects.
A sixth suspect, Timothy Lambert, originally charged with first-degree murder, plead guilty to first-degree robbery with a firearm and conspiracy to commit a felony last week.
Lambert awaits sentencing.