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Spring trial dates set in two homicides

Jan. 16, 2013 @ 12:03 AM

Spring trial dates set in two homicides

HUNTINGTON -- Two homicide defendants received spring trial dates Tuesday in Cabell Circuit Court.

Both suspects -- Aaron Alexander Searls and Edward Jesse Dreyfuse -- appeared before Cabell Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell in orange jumpsuits as they remain incarcerated on unrelated charges.

Searls, 28, of Huntington is charged with the Jan. 9, 2012, shooting death of Larry John Keaton Jr. The 45-year-old died as he left a nightclub in the 1500 block of 3rd Avenue.

Farrell set a tentative trial date of April 16. He joined Searls' attorney in vowing there would be no additional delays.

The defense attorney, Abe Saad, said their side is waiting on a report from its forensic expert.

Keaton's girlfriend witnessed the shooting and testified last year. She recalled having witnessed a handgun's laser sight go across her face and shine on Keaton's moments before he was shot.

Searls has claimed self-defense, maintaining he was attacked upon exiting the nightclub. The lead detective has testified surveillance video and the girlfriend's testimony tell another story.

Dreyfuse, 46, of New Martinsville, W.Va., is charged with using an aluminum baseball bat to beat Otis Clay Jr. The mentally handicapped victim died May 1, 2012, from injuries suffered in the beating.

Farrell set a tentative trial date of March 26. Dreyfuse's attorney has petitioned the court for a speedy trial.

Cabell County Prosecutor Chris Chiles said DNA tests are still pending. The two sides also have plans to submit the entire bat for analysis.

Chiles, increasingly encouraged by the strength of the case, gave Dreyfuse one week to accept the prosecution's plea offer before it expires.

In another unrelated case, Cabell Circuit Judge Alfred Ferguson postponed sentencing for bouncers Ricky Eugene Harmon and Lazarus A. Poindexter. Court officials needed more time for pre-sentence investigations.

Both men entered Kennedy pleas last month to unlawful wounding. The charges stemmed from injuries inflicted upon two attendees of a wedding reception, which occurred in June 2010 at a 3rd Avenue nightclub.

Such a plea allows for the defendant's conviction without him or her admitting guilt or explaining participation in the crime.

An indictment initially charged Harmon and Poindexter with two counts of malicious wounding.

Follow Curtis Johnson via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD and http://facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD.