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St. Albans man sentenced for baby’s death

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A St. Albans man was sentenced Thursday for the death of an 8-month-old child.

A Kanawha County jury found William Ellis Bowen IV guilty of murder of a child by refusal and failure to supply necessities, as well as death of a child by child abuse.

Bowen was sentenced to 15 years to life, as well as life with the recommendation of mercy. The sentences will be consecutive.

Bowen’s sentence is connected with the June 2018 death of Lillyann Aubriana Hudson, the daughter of Bowen’s then-girlfriend Chellbie Hudson. The infant was found barely breathing after being in a room with Bowen, and county prosecutors argued Bowen injured the girl and did not seek medical attention.

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Goodwin refers FBI to use of force incident; stresses more dialogue and unity in city

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin announced several steps following a use of force incident in October involving members of the Charleston Police Department, she stressed more actions moving forward: engaging in communication and coming together.

The mayor’s comments came during a chaotic set of events on Thursday at Charleston City Hall that led to a joint press conference with councilmembers, Charleston Police Department (CPD) officers, Concerned Clergy Coalition of Charleston members, and Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) members.

“Our phones need to start ringing again, we need to break bread with one another, we need have coffees with one another,” Goodwin told MetroNews. “It sounds simple but it’s not. It’s critical, though. It’s necessary if we are going to understand what each other is feeling and what we need to move forward.”

Amy Goodwin

Among Goodwin’s actions, in a response to the clergy’s letter sent at a recent public forum, CPD Chief Opie Smith has referred the incident to the FBI for an independent investigation. The FBI could refer the matter to the U.S. Attorney or the Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office.

The actions come on the heels of pressure from the clergy and members of the public to do more following CPD allowing two officers to return to work from administrative leave after a use of force investigation.

An Oct. 14 incident captured on video showed Patrol Officer Carlie McCoy struggling to arrest 27-year-old Freda Gilmore outside of a Family Dollar store on Virginia Street West. Patrolman Joshua Mena punched Gilmore several times in the head.

Other actions taken by the city include working with police leadership to review policing policies, and she intends to create a Charleston Police Citizen Advisory Council. The body will be made up of Charleston residents and act as a liaison between the police department and the city.

At the public forum on November 5, the clergy requested the FBI investigate the matter but also called for McCoy and Mena to be placed back on suspension.

VIEW: Goodwin’s letter to clergy, Charleston

Rev. Marlon Collins, Pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church in Charleston and member of the clergy said he had mixed emotions with the response.

Rev. Marlon Collins

“I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t completely satisfied but we did get some good dialogue done today (Thursday),” he told MetroNews. “The groundwork has been laid to get some change instituted and get the people and police officers safe.”

But while Collins wasn’t thrilled with how the joint presser abruptly ended after a back-and-forth between the crowd and some officers, he said there are more opportunities ahead because they came together.

“Without this forum today (Thursday), the members of the Charleston Clergy Coalition wouldn’t have had an opportunity to meet who we met today,” he said. “We are going to start a dialogue and start getting some understanding with the different groups. Ultimately, our goal is to make sure this does not happen again however we change policy or personnel.”

Collins referencing his group’s meeting with the state FOP. Initially, there were supposed to be two separate press conferences Thursday afternoon: The state FOP and some councilmembers with CPD and Goodwin’s with the city’s response to the clergy.

Goodwin, state FOP members, and clergy members decided to come together and speak as a group in the council chambers, which the mayor thought was the best idea. She said when it came down to it, all parties involved realized that they want to support the police while having better communication with community members.

“It can’t be an us versus them. It can’t be and that’s why we said enough,” she said.

“Before this press conference or this press conference, let’s get in my office, let’s sit down and talk about how we move forward together.”
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Boone couple gets jail time for taking money from youth football league

MADISON, W.Va. — A Boone County couple will spend time in jail for embezzling as much as $42,000 from the now-defunct Seth Midget Football League.

Jeremy and Pamela Johnson were sentenced separately Wednesday after previous guilty pleas.

Pamela Johnson

Boone County Circuit Judge Will Thompson sentenced Pamela Johnson to 1-10 years in prison. She previously pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement. She was the treasurer of the league from 2014-2018 and had access to cash and a card. Her husband, Jeremy was the league president during that time. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor embezzlement. Thompson sentenced him to a year in jail, suspended the sentence, and put him on probation for seven years. When his wife gets out of jail, Jeremy Johnson will have to serve 30 days in jail. The couple was ordered to pay more than $9,000 in restitution.

Boone County Prosecutor Keith Randolph tells 580 WCHS Radio News what the couple did continues to impact the community.

“This at least partly contributed to the demise of that league which is no longer in place right now,” Randolph said. “Hopefully they will be able to put something together in the future for the children over there. But, absolutely, this hurts the entire community of Seth and surrounding counties that were involved in that league.”

Investigators determined the couple stole somewhere between $25,000 and $42,000, Randolph said.

“There were a lot of trips to Walmart and to Sam’s to purchase something small and get a significant amount of cash back. There were a lot of ATM withdrawals and a lot of withdrawals while on vacation for vacation-related expenses.”

Randolph said there wasn’t much of a paper trail so the actual amount taken could be higher.

“We don’t know how much money comes in on a cash donation at certain events. We don’t always know how much cash comes in at the gate if one person is controlling it. Some of this evidence is circumstantial but we are confident with that range,” Randolph said.

He said there are some lessons to be learned by volunteer community organizations from the case.

“Don’t have spouses sitting on the board. Don’t have family members sitting on the board,” Randolph said. “Or if you do have to have family members they shouldn’t be in the officer positions where they are the ones solely in control of the finances.”

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Some council members planning news conference involving FOP before Goodwin expected announcement

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin is expected to announce her decision today on if there will be further response by the city in connection with an October arrest on the city’s West Side that involved a use of force by two police officers.

Goodwin was asked by a group of clergy to consider an additional investigation into the arrest. An internal probe cleared the officers of any wrongdoing. Police Chief Opie Smith said the officers’ actions were within policy. There were several punches thrown to subdue the suspect.

Goodwin could agree to seeking an additional investigation or she could propose changing the current police department policy.

West Virginia Fraternal Order of Police President Steve Walker said his organization has been asked by a couple members of city council to explain the current policy at a Thursday afternoon news conference which could come before Goodwin’s announcement.

“A couple of Charleston City Council members are a little dismayed of the actions the mayor has taken,” Walker said on 580 Live on WCHS Radio Thursday. “We’re going to talk and explain how a policy is written and we’re also going to talk about that event from a month ago, break it down (the arrest video) second-by-second and try to explain to the public what’s going on.”

Councilman Brady Campbell said the news conference would take place Thursday at 2:30 p.m. on the steps of city hall in downtown Charleston.

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Nitro man arraigned on additional charges related to November 2018 death

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Nitro man was arraigned Wednesday on multiple charges related to the death of a 66-year-old man in Jefferson.

Douglas “Fatty” Kidd III already faces a charge of first-degree murder for allegedly killing James Morris in November 2018. Kidd allegedly killed Morris after an argument, and was previously at South Central Regional Jail before his arrest.

He was arraigned Wednesday on charges of being a person prohibited from possessing firearms, being a person prohibited from possessing concealed firearms, the use of a firearm during the commission of a felony, offense of an inmate at South Central Regional Jail, strangulation, malicious assault on a corrections officer and battery on a corrections officer.

Kidd pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Kanawha County Circuit Judge Tera Salango set Kidd’s trial date for Feb. 24.

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Kanawha County health body reports 18 confirmed HIV cases

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Eighteen cases of HIV in Kanawha County have been confirmed, the Charleston-Kanawha HIV Task Force announced Wednesday.

The number of cases increased by two since the task force’s last meeting in October. Eight of the cases involve people using drugs.

While there is no risk to the public, the task force is offering incentives such as gift cards to get more people tested.

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Kanawha planning commission recommends rejecting Nitro’s annexation proposal

CROSS LANES, W.Va. — The Kanawha County Planning Commission is recommending the Kanawha County Commission not approve a request from Nitro officials to annex two miles of road in Cross Lanes.

The proposal, discussed at a public hearing Wednesday at Cross Lanes Elementary School, has been met with opposition from Cross Lanes residents who are concerned the action would be the first step in Nitro annexing the entire unincorporated community.

Nitro officials want to annex portions of Lakeview Drive and Goff Mountain Road, citing traffic problems that have resulted in wrecks and affected businesses at Nitro Marketplace. The annexation would not include any businesses or residences.

Yet most of the 140 attendees at the hearing opposed the idea because of concerns about giving Nitro more control of land in Cross Lanes.

“What’s going to happen is you start at point ‘A,’ and you guys are just going to go straight to point ‘Z,’ whether it’s this administration or the next administration,” John White, of Cross Lanes, said. “I saw this in Toledo, Ohio, where I grew up, and I saw it here in Cross Lanes.”

J.D. Strickland, a member of the Planning Commission, introduced the resolution against the annexation proposal.

“Over the years, there’s been a lot of people that have tried to incorporate or annex the unincorporated area of Cross Lanes,” he said. “It’s always been met with opposition. It’s just the will of the people.”

Nitro Mayor Dave Casebolt said the Planning Commission’s decision came as no surprise to him.

“A majority of people in Cross Lanes realize that there’s traffic issues out at Nitro Marketplace. Our argument is still the same,” he said. “Those traffic conditions are costing us commerce out there.”

Multiple attendees asked why Nitro could not build a new road to divert traffic, but Casebolt said such road cannot be constructed.

“There would be so much dirt that would have to be moved. There’s too many slips there and too many ups and downs,” he said. “You wouldn’t see much residential development out of it, and you would see very little business development out of it. They could justify building a multi-million dollar road back across over to Nitro.”

The Kanawha County Commission has the final say on the proposal; commissioners will consider the recommendation at its Dec. 5 meeting.

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YMCA board chairman looks ahead following CEO retirement

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The search for the next Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA of Kanawha Valley is underway.

Ric Cavender, Chair of the Board of Directors of the YMCA of Kanawha Valley told 580-WCHS that the board is in the beginning stages of forming a search committee to find Monty Warner’s replacement. The Board of Directors announced Warner’s retirement, effective immediately, on Tuesday.

Cavender said the board will follow the traditional process in the search.

“They’ll get together and start putting that process together,” he said. “They’ll consult the YMCA USA. We have a representative that consults with us and we will be following the proper processes to find the next leader for the organization.”

During the search process, COO Erin Dydland and CFO Tony Mariani are in charge and Cavender said the organization could not be in better hands at this time.

“From an operational standpoint, she (Erin) knows the place inside and out,” he said. “She has done a good job in her role and I think she will continue to. Tony has a really good grasp, sort of the 30,000-foot view level or the financials of the organization.”

Warner served as CEO for more than four years, overseeing an upgrade and expansion to the YMCA’s fitness center.

Cavender said the YMCA’s impact on the Kanawha Valley cannot be overstated. The organization and board plan to put together a strategic planning initiative to show that impact during the search.

“It’ll be on the impact that the YMCA has on the community and the valley,” he said. “Not just as a gym and a place to come and swim and a childcare facility, but programmatically what the YMCA will be doing to have an impact on the community as well.”

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Record low temperatures broken throughout the state Wednesday morning

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Record low temperatures around the state that have stood for over 100 years were broken Wednesday morning.

Mike Zwier, a National Weather Service Meteorologist in Charleston confirmed to MetroNews that at least seven of their climate sites around the state recorded lows, with a few that had been previously been set in 1911.

He said Huntington, Charleston, Parkersburg, Clarksburg, Morgantown, Bluefield, and Beckley all set or tied records into the low teens and single digits, while Elkins, Wheeling and Martinsburg were close.

“We are early in November still and it’s pretty rare for us to get this cold of air to come down this early in the season,” Zwier told MetroNews. “These are temperatures we are more likely to see once we get into January.

“It’s happened before but not something we see that often.”

Records broken for November 13 include:

Huntington at 12 degrees; the previous record was 17

Charleston at 14 degrees; the previous record was 16

Parkersburg at 12 degrees; the previous record was 17

Clarksburg at 14 degrees; the previous record was 15

Morgantown at 13 degrees; the previous record was 15

Beckley at 8 degrees; the previous record was 15

Bluefield at 6 degrees; the previous record was 10

According to Zwier, Elkins tied a record low of 10 degrees, while Wheeling was around the record low of 12 degrees and Martinsburg sat at 20 degrees, two degrees above its record low. Zwier said official confirmation of temperatures, which could sway the temp by one degree, will happen on Wednesday afternoon.

“Some of the oldest records at Huntington, Charleston and Wheeling were set in 1911,” he said. “If we break it at all three of those sets, that would be breaking some very old records. Elkins record was in 1920 and Bluefield was 1911 so we are looking at really old records here.”

Zwier said it looks like temperatures will be warming up around the state through the week but still below average for the time of year. For example, the average high temperature for Charleston for early-to-mid November is the upper 50s but the forecast shows highs in the upper 40s the rest of the week into the weekend.

The average low temperatures around the state for this time of the year is mid-to-upper 30s

“It looks like we are below average for most of the week but we get close to average as we head into next week,” Zwier said.

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YMCA’s Warner resigns as CEO

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The YMCA of Kanawha Valley’s Board of Directors announced on Tuesday the retirement of the CEO, which went into effect immediately.

Monty Warner served as CEO for more than 4 years, overseeing an upgrade and expansion to the YMCA’s fitness center.

“I grew up in the old Henry Gassaway Davis YMCA on Capitol Street. It’s where I learned to play basketball, swim, and do arts and crafts. Most of all, however, I made lifelong friends. It was a joy to have played a part in making these same opportunities available to our Generation Z,” Warner said in a press release.

COO Erin Dydland and CFO Tony Mariani will lead the YMCA until a permanent CEO is found.

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