Kanawha County teenager resentenced to 15 years behind bars

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha County circuit judge resentenced a teenager to 15 years in prison Monday.

Eli Nelson, who turns 18 on Tuesday, was originally sentenced in August after a June guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter. Kanawha County Circuit Judge Maryclaire Akers presided over resentencing because of Nelson’s pending 18th birthday.

Nelson admitted in June that he shot and killed Jimmy Keith, 26, on March 10, 2022, during an altercation on Third Street West, just outside of St. Albans. Keith, of Pond Gap, was living with his girlfriend in the area. The guilty plea followed Nelson transfer to adult status on a prosecution motion.

Nelson said he and a friend were breaking into various cars in the area and Keith came out into the street and confronted him and said, according to Nelson, that he was going to shoot him in the face. Nelson said he reacted by running and shooting, with a bullet fatally striking Keith.

“I’m sorry for what I have done to the family of Jimmy Keith,” Nelson said in an August sentencing. “I replay the situation over and over in my head and ask myself what I could have done better during that.”

Nelson’s attorney asked Akers Monday to reduce the sentence and send him to the Anthony Center for Youthful Offenders. A Kanawha County assistant prosecutor made a similar request.

Akers denied the requests and stayed with he 15-year sentence. She said Nelson has shown little remorse. Nelson chose not to testify at Monday’s hearing.

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