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Man accused of murder already faced drug charges

Nov. 07, 2012 @ 11:35 PM

HUNTINGTON -- A local 19-year-old was walking free on bond Tuesday from two ongoing drug cases when he conspired with another man to rob a Huntington drug house -- an incident that ended with the shooting death of a Detroit man, court documents allege.

A criminal complaint charges Rocky Hudson Williams with murder during the commission of a felony. He was arraigned Wednesday and detained without bond because of the seriousness of the murder charge.

Gunfire erupted about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at 1939 Foster Ave. It killed Darrell Fugua, 22, of Detroit, and injured two others, Thomas Maurice White, 21, of Huntington and Devante Penn, 17, of Detroit.

Williams provided a statement to police blaming the incident on a failed robbery, according to the criminal complaint. It states Williams had conspired with White to rob the residence.

A misdemeanor complaint, charging Charity Dawn Cornell, described 1939 Foster Ave. as a drug house occupied by multiple people who stayed at the residence. It further states those investigating the homicide found "extensive drug use and possession of narcotic medications."

Cornell, 35, of Huntington was charged with misdemeanor maintaining a dwelling for the purpose of using, storing and distributing controlled substances. Both she and White also were free on bond from earlier arrests at the time of Tuesday's shooting.

Penn and White remained hospitalized Wednesday, according to Huntington Police Capt. Rick Eplin. Hospitals where the two were taken could not update their conditions, however Eplin described Penn as in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.

The captain described White as having received serious injuries, albeit in stable condition as of Wednesday. Investigators have not determined if White will face criminal charges, Eplin added.

Investigators did not identify a specific triggerman in Williams' criminal complaint, instead only alleging that Fugua died in the commission of a felony to meet the definition of murder.

Eplin described the incident as a drug dispute that erupted into gunfire. He said investigators believe multiple gunmen were involved, but they have not pinpointed who fired what gunshots and what precipitated the exchange.

Investigators hoped to glean those answers from additional interviews and forensic evidence. Eplin said it could take months to analyze the forensic evidence, which could either clarify the stories of those interviewed or show someone is not forthright.

"You could speculate all kinds of things," he said. "I can't elaborate as far as exactly who did what, whose role and (what) the entire scenario was until we piece everything together, and that's just going to take time."

The murder case represents Williams' third felony arrest since early summer. The series of police run-ins began with a June 2 traffic stop in the 1800 block of 8th Avenue. Criminal complaints charge Williams then possessed a bag of marijuana, 11.1 grams of crack cocaine and $321 cash. Days later he waived a magistrate court hearing for a bond reduction from $50,000 to $20,000.

The next arrest came Sept. 15 in the 1400 block of 18th Street. Those complaints indicate officers stopped Williams for underage consumption. They later found small bags in his pockets containing 16 Alprazolam pills, 9.5 hyrdrocodone pills, 4.4 grams of crack cocaine and 7.4 grams of marijuana. Police also found $549 cash and a set of digital scales.

Williams again waived his right to a magistrate court hearing days later. This time prosecutors agreed to release Williams on his own recognizance and further agreed to seek no bond revocation from the June arrest, according to court documents.

Cabell County Prosecutor Chris Chiles was unaware of specifics, but stood by his assistant saying there must have been a valid reason for Williams' release as the defendant had no history of violent crime.

"It's not uncommon for us to accept the waiver of a preliminary hearing in exchange for people being released on bond," he said. "The law says they're entitled to a reasonable bond and it's not uncommon, especially with our overcrowded jails."

White's release on bond stemmed from a Sept. 15 assault in the 400 block of 15th Street. A criminal complaint charges White was among several men who attacked a victim, knocking him to the ground and kicking him while he was down causing him to lose consciousness. The case is still pending in magistrate court.

White previously had been sentenced to probation in connection with a stolen property case that led to a misdemeanor joyriding conviction.

"It's unfortunate when something serious like this happens, we find out that people are part of an ongoing process in the middle of the system," said Huntington Police Chief Skip Holbrook. "But we also know that it happens and it's going to continue to happen as long as have jail overcrowding, unscheduled bonding. There's just a variety of reasons, and I don't think there is any one, single place to blame."

Cornell was free on bond in connection with a Sept. 21, misdemeanor stolen property case. It remains pending in magistrate court.