Kanawha County man guilty on all counts after 2020 violent crime spree

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A 12-member Kanawha County jury convicted a Clendenin man Monday on all eight criminal counts against him, including murder, in connection with a February 2020 one day crime spree on the West Side of Charleston.

Joshua Drennen

The jury returned guilty verdicts against Joshua Drennen, 28, on counts of first-degree murder,
petit larceny, first degree robbery, malicious wounding, assault during a felony, possession of a stolen vehicle, attempted first-degree murder and malicious assault of a police officer.

“Mr. Drennen, by verdict of this jury, you have been found guilty of committing the felony offense of murder in the first-degree,” Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey told Drennen.

The jury, which started deliberations last Friday, discussed the case for about four hours Monday.

Bailey then began the mercy phase of the trial. The jury was scheduled to hear testimony about whether to grant Drennen mercy on the murder charge. If the panel does, he’ll have a chance for parole in 15 years.

Drennen killed Barbara Steele, 77, in her Georgia Street home on Feb. 11, 2020. He then committed a carjacking, attempted a second carjacking before an altercation with Charleston police officer Austin Casto. Drennen used an antique flat iron he stole from Steele’s home to attack her and the other victims.

Drennen’s attorney presented a mental illness defense. John Sullivan asked the jury not to hold Drennen criminally responsible.

Drennen may choose to testify during the mercy phase.

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